Initial Class Need Not Be Final Class Definition Under Missouri Law
In Hope v. Nissan North America, Inc., 353 S.W. 3rd 68 (Mo. App. 2011), Plaintiffs brought a class action lawsuit claiming that the presence of a defect in the dashboard (dashboard bubbling) of the FX Vehicles diminished the vehicles' value, regardless of whether the defect actually manifested. Plaintiffs argued that because the defect places a stigma upon all FX Vehicles, reducing marketability and resale value of each particular car, a proper class should be certified by the trial court. Plaintiffs argued that the court should define the class as encompassing all Missouri owners of Nissan FX Vehicles for purposes of class certification.
Missouri Class Action Law
The Missouri Court of Appeals determined that the Plaintiff is the master of his complaint, and he has the burden and responsibility of proposing a legally acceptable class definition. Plaintiff has the burden of submitting a proper class definition or amendment to the Missouri trial court. The Court of Appeals further found that the defendant cannot be coerced to assist in the success of the plaintiffs' attempt to obtain class certification by having the court require the Defendant to propose a class definition.
Nissan contended that Missouri law requires a "final, precise, and definite class definition" prior to initial certification. The Court of Appeals determined that this limitation is not imposed upon Missouri trial courts. Requiring the trial court to rely solely on the original certification definition would defeat all aspects of judicial economy, the underlying purpose of class actions, as the case develops.
St. Louis Missouri Class Action Lawyer
Missouri courts consistently recognize a certified class may subsequently be modified or decertified later before decision on the merits. Therefore, the Missouri Court of Appeals found that it would make no sense to require that the initial definition be the final class definition.
Contact a St. Louis Missouri Class Action Attorney
Attorney Kevin J. Dolley is a St. Louis, Missouri class action attorney representing plaintiffs and defendants in class action prosecution and defense. If you have questions about a possible class action or defense of a lawsuit for damages based upon a class action that has been filed against your company, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Dolley directly at (314)645-4100 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.