United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
Jack Brooks and Ellen Brooks, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
GAF Materials Corporation, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION
J. MICHELLE CHILDS, District Judge.
In this class action lawsuit, Plaintiffs Jack Brooks and Ellen Brooks (collectively "Plaintiffs"), on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, allege that Defendant GAF Materials Corporation ("GAF") manufactured and sold defective roofing shingles. (See ECF No. 1-1.) The court granted Plaintiffs' motion for class certification applicable to causes of action for negligence, breach of warranty, breach of implied warranties, and unjust enrichment. (ECF No. 90.)
This matter is now before the court by way of a motion by GAF to decertify the class represented by Plaintiffs pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(c)(1)(C). (ECF No. 158.) For the reasons set forth below, the court DENIES GAF's motion to decertify the class represented by Plaintiffs.
I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO PENDING MOTION
GAF manufactures roofing materials, including roofing shingles marketed under the Timberline® brand name. Plaintiffs filed a putative class action suit against GAF alleging, among other things, that GAF knowingly manufactured and sold defective shingles that cracked and caused damage to the roof of Plaintiffs' house. (See, e.g., ECF No. 1-1.) On October 19, 2012, the court entered an order (the "October Order") certifying a class defined as follows:
All persons or entities who own any South Carolina property with GAF Timberline® shingles manufactured at GAF's Mobile, Alabama manufacturing facility between 1999 through 2007 which have cracked, split, or torn. The class is not intended to include any structure owned by the Defendant or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.
(ECF No. 90 at 16-17.)
After several additional rounds of briefing in which each party requested reconsideration on various rulings, GAF filed on March 19, 2014 the instant motion to decertify the class represented by Plaintiffs. (ECF No. 158.) Plaintiffs filed opposition to the motion to decertify on April 7, 2014, to which GAF filed a reply in support of decertification on April 15, 2014. (ECF Nos. 166, 169.)
On April 17, 2014, the court held a hearing on GAF's pending motion.
II. LEGAL STANDARD AND ANALYSIS
A. Motions to Decertify under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(c)(1)(C)
Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(c)(1)(C) provides that "[a]n order that grants or denies class certification may be altered or amended before final judgment." Id . In this regard, "[e]ven after a certification order is entered, the judge remains free to modify it in the light of subsequent developments in the litigation." Gen. Tel. Co. of the Sw. v. Falcon , 457 U.S. 147, 160 (1982). Moreover, the court has an affirmative obligation to reverse an order certifying a class "if it becomes apparent, at any time during the pendency of the proceeding, that class treatment of the action is inappropriate." Stott v. Haworth , 916 F.2d 134, 139 (4th Cir. 1990).
The standard is the same for class decertification as it is with class certification: a district court must be satisfied that the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a) and (b) are met to allow plaintiffs to maintain the action on a representative basis. Marlo v. United Parcel Serv., Inc. , 639 F.3d 942, 947 (9th Cir. 2011). However, a court should not "disturb its prior certification findings absent some significant intervening event, or a showing of compelling reasons to reexamine the question." Jermyn v. Best Buy Stores, L.P. , 276 F.R.D. 167, 169 (S.D.N.Y. 2011) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). Moreover, "[a] court should be ...