Galvan v. KDI: Nationwide Consumer Class Certified

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California Central District Judge James V. Selna has granted certification of a nationwide class alleging violations of California’s consumer-protection statutes in connection with prepaid telephone calling cards.  See Galvan v. KDI Distribution, Inc., No. 08-cv-0999 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 25, 2011) (order granting class certification motion) (available here).  The plaintiff alleges that the defendant misrepresented the total number of calling minutes consumers would receive with the purchase of the defendant’s prepaid calling cards.  Id. at 2.

The detailed and closely reasoned decision is notable in several respects, foremost the application of California law to the nationwide class.  See id. at 19-20.  The court reasoned that because California law is not in conflict with the laws of other states where KDI operates (at least as it pertains to the issues presented in this case), and KDI’s primary place of business is in California, California law would be most appropriate to apply to the class.  Id. at 20.  

The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that individualized showings of reliance precluded class certification by rendering individual issues of law and fact predominant.  See id. at 15.  The court thus reinforced the trend among trial and appellate courts to find a presumption of reliance as to absent class members in cases where, as here, the basis of the class’s claims is false advertising and misrepresentations made by the defendant, and the alleged misrepresentations are material.  

Finally, the court substantially credited the plaintiff’s proposed trial plan.  Id. at 17.  The plaintiff proposes to establish class-wide liability through a combination of documents already produced by the defendant, legal and economic expert testimony, and “limited individual inquiries” to establish damages and proper measures of restitution.  Id