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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Safaie v. Jacuzzi: Plaintiff Cannot Renew Motion to Certify After Order Denying Cert Becomes Final

In Safaie v. Jacuzzi Whirlpool Bath, Inc. (2/22/11) --- Cal.App.4th ----, 2011 WL 213494, the plaintiff, Safaie, appealed from an order denying his motion to recertify a class of individuals who purchased bath tubs from defendant.

Safaie alleged that the defendant misrepresented the horsepower of its whirlpool bath motors. The trial court (San Diego Superior, Judge Hayes) originally certified, then decertified the class. Safaie appealed from the decertification order, and the Court of Appeal affirmed. Safaie did not seek review in the Supreme Court.

Shortly thereafter, the Supreme Court then issued its decision in In re Tobacco II Cases (2009) 46 Cal.4th 298, which addressed standing issues in Unfair Competition cases after passage of Prop. 64. We blogged Tobacco II here and here.

Safaie then renewed his certification motion. The trial court denied the motion, and Safaie appealed.

The Court of Appeal affirmed. It held that Safaie could not appeal the order denying his recertification motion:
Unlike a denial of a class certification motion, the order denying recertification did not “end” the class case or dispose of the class allegations. Instead, when Safaie moved to recertify the class in June 2009, the class allegations had already been removed from the case (based on the trial court's decertification order and this court's affirmance of the order), and Safaie was the sole plaintiff in an individual action. Thus, the effect of the challenged order was not to dismiss the action as to the members of the class, but it was to deny Safaie's request to insert class allegations back into his individual action. A denial of this request did not serve as a death knell to Safaie's individual action because the complaint already existed as an individual action. Safaie's motion to recertify the class was essentially a request to reconsider the court's prior order based on asserted new law. Generally, a denial of a reconsideration motion is not appealable.
Slip op. at 4.

Next considering his appeal as a writ petition, the Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion.
Safaie contends the court erred in denying his motion to recertify the class. We determine the court properly denied Safaie's motion based on the “state law policy” rule that a party is not entitled to bring a renewed motion for class certification after a court has issued a final order denying certification. We thus do not reach Safaie's challenges to the court's alternate ground for denying the motion based on the law of the case doctrine.
Slip op. at 5.

The opinion is available here.

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