The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL CONTI, Senior District Judge
Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for class
certification pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Plaintiffs seek to certify a class of customers who employed
Defendant North American Van Lines ("Defendant" or "North American") to
move their household goods and who were injured by North American's
allegedly deceptive and unlawful business practices. Having read
Plaintiffs' complaint and the papers submitted in connection with this
motion and for the reasons articulated below, the Court hereby denies
Plaintiffs' motion for class certification. II. BACKGROUND
A more complete discussion of the circumstances leading up to the
filing of this action can be found in this Court's January 22, 2004
Order. For now however, a shorter recitation will suffice. The two named
Plaintiffs, Karen Robertson*fn1 and Terra Saks-Young, are former
customers of North American. Each of them contracted with North American
to move their household belongings across the country, and each received
a final bill that was considerably higher than the original estimate that
North American had provided. Plaintiffs allege that these instances are
part of North American's widespread and deceptive practice of baiting
consumers with reasonable, written estimates, then increasing the charges
to artificially-inflated amounts and holding consumers' household
belongings hostage until the artificially-inflated amount is paid. Pls.'
First Amended Compl. ("FAC") at ¶ 1. Plaintiffs contend this practice is
in direct violation of federal regulations that require motor carriers to
provide "reasonably accurate estimates" and, under certain circumstances,
not to charge more than 110% of the estimated price. See
49 C.F.R. § 375.3(b), 375.3(d) (2002)*fn2. Plaintiffs also contend that Defendant routinely
violates several other federal regulations that govern motor carriers,
namely, the requirements that a motor carrier provide notice to consumers
when their goods are going to be weighed, that a carrier only use
certified scales in conducting such weighings, and the requirement
regarding the amount of fuel that can be in the tank of the moving truck
at the time of each weighing. See 49 C.F.R. § 375.7(a)7;
49 C.F.R. § 375.7(a); 49 C.F.R. § 375.7(a)(3), respectively.
On May 21, 2003, Plaintiffs filed the instant action before this Court. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on November 5,
2003, which listed four causes of action: 1) breach of contract; 2)
violation of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, California Civil Code §
1750, et seq.; 3) violation of California Business and Professions Code
§ 17200; and 4) violation of federal statute 49 U.S.C. § 14704(a)(2).
Plaintiffs' claim under 49 U.S.C. § 14704(a)(2) is based on Defendants'
alleged violations of the federal regulations listed above regarding
reasonable estimates, notice of weighing, etc.
In the January 22, 2004 Order, this Court dismissed Plaintiffs' first
three causes of action on the grounds that they were preempted by federal
law. The Court found that the federal regulatory scheme governing the
interstate transportation of household goods is so pervasive as to make
reasonable the inference that Congress left no room for state law to
operate in this area. Plaintiffs, with their remaining claim for relief,
now seek to certify a class on behalf of:
All persons and entities through the United States and
its territories who contracted with North American Van
Lines, Inc. ("Defendant") to move household goods
based on "Named Shipper Option" written estimates
during the period January 1, 1999 to the present (the
"Class Period") and whose final charges prior to
delivery were in excess of 110% of the estimated cost
as a result of a variance between the last written
estimated weight rendered by Defendant prior to
complete loading and the purported actual weight determined by
Defendant after loading.
Pls.' FAC at ¶ 16. Plaintiffs contend that this class has been injured
by Defendant's systematic and uniform violation of several federal
regulations governing the conduct of motor carriers. Plaintiffs seek
restitution, compensatory damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, and
attorneys' fees and costs. Pls.' FAC, ¶ 73. Plaintiffs further request
that Karen Robertson be appointed as class representative and that
Plaintiffs' counsel be certified as class counsel. Plaintiffs assert they
have met the requirements under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a) and that this action
can be certified by the Court under both 23(b)(2) and 23(b)(3). After
reviewing Plaintiffs' complaint and the papers submitted in connection
with this motion, the Court finds that Plaintiffs cannot satisfy the
requirements under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b) and therefore deny Plaintiffs'
motion for class certification.
A. Motion for Class Certification
Class actions are governed by Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The party seeking class certification bears the burden of
demonstrating that all four requirements under Rule 23(a) have been met
and at least one of the requirements of Rule 23(b). However, whether to
certify a class is within the "trial court's considered discretion." Doninger v. Pacific Northwest Bell, Inc., 564 F.2d 1304, 1309 (9th Cir.
1977) (quoting Price v. Lucky Stores, Inc., 501 F.2d 1177, 1179 (9th
Cir. 1974)). Before certifying a class, the court "must conduct a
`rigorous analysis' into whether the prerequisites of Rule 23 are met."
Valentin v. Carter-Wallace, Inc., 97 F.3d 1227 (9th Cir. 1996)(citing In
re American Medical Sys., 75 F.3d 1069 (6th Cir. 1996).
Rule 23(a) lists four prerequisites to a class action: 1) the class
must be so numerous that joinder is impracticable; 2) there are common
questions of law or fact; 3) the claims and defenses of the class
representative are typical of those of the class; and 4) the class
representative will fairly and adequately represent the interests of the
In addition to meeting the requirements of Rule 23(a), the parties
seeking class certification must also show that the action is
maintainable under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(1), (2), or (3). Hanlon v. Chrysler
Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1022 (9th Cir. 1998)(citing Amchem Products, Inc.
v. Windsor, 117 S.Ct. 2231, 2245 (1997)). In this case Plaintiffs propose
certification under both 23(b)(2) and 23(b)(3).
In order to certify a class under Rule 23(b)(2), Plaintiffs must show
that Defendant "has acted or refused to act on grounds generally
applicable to the class, thereby making appropriate final injunctive
relief or corresponding declaratory relief with respect to the class as a
whole. . . . " Fed.R.Civ.P.23(b)(2). In addition, "[c]lass actions certified under Rule
23(b)(2) are limited to those cases where the primary relief sought is
injunctive or declaratory relief." Barabin v. Aramark Corp., 2003 WL
355417, *1 (3rd Cir.); see also James v. City of Dallas, 254 F.3d 551,
571 (5th Cir. 2001) (stating that "To maintain an action under Rule
23(b)(2), [injunctive] relief rather than monetary damages must be the
predominant form of relief the plaintiffs pursue."). If a plaintiff
seeking certification under Rule 23(b)(2) has ...