Superior Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk, Business Litigation Session
June 22, 2016
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION OF CLASS CERTIFICATION AND DISCOVERY
Kenneth W. Salinger, Justice
Grant claims that the motor vehicle lease she entered into
with State Road Auto Sales, Inc., in February 2013 contained
unlawful terms that violate the federal Consumer Leasing Act
(15 U.S.C. § 1667 et seq.) and G.L.c. 93A.
prior ruling, the Court allowed Defendant's motion for
judgment on the pleadings as to the claim under c. 93A
because Grant does not allege that she suffered any actual
injury from State Road's allegedly deceptive conduct; it
denied judgment on the pleadings as to Grant's other
claims. The Court then denied Grant's motion for class
certification on the grounds that some class members
allegedly suffered actual injury because their leases with
State Road contained illegal provisions; Grant's claims
are not typical of all class members and she could not
adequately represent the interests of those class members
that are entitled to sue State Road under c. 93A; and it
would not be feasible to certify a class that only included
plaintiffs who suffered no actual injury, and thus have no
viable claim under c. 93A, because doing so would require the
kind of highly individualized discovery and adjudication that
class actions are designed to avoid.
seeks reconsideration on the ground that the Court could and
should have certified a class consisting of all people who
leased cars from State Road subject to terms that violate the
federal Consumer Leasing Act, while specifying that no claims
under G.L.c. 93A will be litigated or decided in this action.
Grant argues that this would be proper because such a class
action would have no preclusive effect with respect to any
class member's claim against State Road under c. 93A.
Grant asserts that the Court therefore " made a clear
error of law" in not certifying a class that would only
proceed as to the federal claim, and not with respect to any
claim under c. 93A.
failed to make this argument in support of its prior motion.
She instead raises it for the first time in her motion for
reconsideration. Grant has no right to do so. See, e.g.,
Commissioner of Revenue v. Comcast Corp., 453 Mass.
293, 312, 901 N.E.2d 1185 (2009) (affirming Superior Court
judge's ruling that argument raised " for the first
time in a motion to reconsider" was waived), quoting
Commonwealth v. Gilday, 409 Mass. 45, 46 n.3, 564
N.E.2d 577 (1991). On the other hand, since final judgment
has not entered, the Court has " broad discretion"
to reconsider all prior rulings in this case. Genesis
Technical & Fin., Inc. v. Cast Navigation, LLC, 74
Mass.App.Ct. 203, 206, 905 N.E.2d 569 (2009); accord
Herbert A. Sullivan, Inc. v. Utica Mut. Ins. Co.,
439 Mass. 387, 401, 788 N.E.2d 522 (2003) (" it is
within the inherent authority of a trial judge to
'reconsider decisions made on the road to final
judgment.'") (quoting Franchi v. Stella, 42
Mass.App.Ct. 251, 258, 676 N.E.2d 56 (1997)).
Court concludes, in the exercise of discretion, that it is
appropriate to reconsider its prior rulings in light of
Grant's new argument in favor of certifying a class for a
limited purpose. If Grant were correct that State Road has
violated the legal rights of thousands of consumers by
inserting unlawful provisions in their motor vehicle leases,
that a class action would allow those consumers to seek to
vindicate their rights under the Consumer Leasing Act, and
that none of those consumers who suffered actual injury would
be precluded from bringing a claim against State Road for
damages under c. 93A if a class were certified only to
litigate Grant's claims under federal law, then it would
be in the interests of justice to determine whether the
requirements for class certification are met and a class
should be certified.
reconsideration, the Court concludes that if it certifies a
class to proceed only with respect to relief sought under the
federal Consumer Leasing Act, then class members who suffered
actual injury from the allegedly deceptive conduct by State
Road would have incentive and indeed no opportunity to seek
relief in this action under G.L.c. 93A, and as a result
litigation of this case as a class action would not have
claim preclusive effect and operate as a bar as to claims
under c. 93A against State Road on behalf of any class
members. Longval v. Commissioner of Correction, 448
Mass. 412, 417-18, 861 N.E.2d 760 (2007) (prior class action
by state prisoners seeking declaratory and injunctive relief
did not bar later claim by individual class member seeking
damages under G.L.c. 93A); see also Aspinall v. Philip
Morris Cos., Inc., 442 Mass. 381, 397 n.19, 813 N.E.2d
476 (2004) (class certified to proceed " only on an
economic theory of damages" under c. 93A would not bar
" future pursuant of claims for personal injury").
Court also finds and concludes that the prerequisites for
certifying a class on claims other than under c. 93A are all
satisfied in this case. The Court finds that the requirements
of Mass.R.Civ.P. 23(a) are satisfied because the proposed
class is so numerous that joinder of all members is
impracticable, there are questions of law or fact common to
the class, the claims or defenses of Sharon Grant are typical
of the claims or defenses of the proposed class, and Ms.
Grant will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the
class. The Court also finds that the requirements of Rule
23(b) are met because the questions of law or fact common to
the members of the class predominate over any questions
affecting only individual members and a class action is
superior to other available members for the fair and
efficient adjudication of the controversy.
exercise of its discretion, the Court will certify an
appropriate class--defined in the order below--to proceed
solely on the claims asserted under the federal Consumer
Leasing Act and for declaratory relief in the third amended
that the Court has certified a class with respect to the
federal Consumer Leasing Act claim, State Road's
relevance objection ...