MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION
Plaintiff Josefina Quezada brings this putative class action against defendants Loan Center of California, Inc. ("LCC"), EMC Mortgage Corporation ("EMC"), Structured Asset Mortgage Investments II, Inc. ("SAMI"), and the Bank of New York Mellon ("Mellon") for violations of the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1601-1667f; violations of California's Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200-17210; fraudulent omissions; breach of contract; and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Before the court is plaintiff's motion for class certification of her fraudulent omissions and UCL claims.*fn1
I. Factual and Procedural Background
The facts of this action have already been recounted by this court in its previous orders, and do not all bear repeating here. See Quezada v. Loan Ctr. of Cal., Inc., No. Civ. 08-177 WBS KJM, 2008 WL 5100241, at *1-2 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 26, 2008). In brief, plaintiff alleges defendants violated California's UCL and committed fraud when they failed to disclose material risks posed by defendants' Option Adjustable Rate Mortgages ("OARMs"). Plaintiff obtained her loan from LCC. The TAC alleges that defendants' OARM loans were based on an artificially low "teaser" interest rate that was guaranteed to increase. Plaintiff alleges that her loan documents and disclosures did not disclose that her ORAM specified monthly payments that were based on this artificially low interest rate, that this rate would only remain in effect for thirty days, and that the ORAM would certainly result in negative amortization.
EMC is not a direct lender, but rather entered into an agreement with LLC, under which LLC could sell mortgage loans to EMC. (Defs.' Statement of Facts ("SOF") ¶ 73.) EMC purchased or is otherwise an assignee of plaintiff's loan. (Third Am. Compl. ("TAC") ¶ 4.) The TAC alleges that SAMI and Mellon presently own or owned the loans at issue. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.) Plaintiff contends that EMC, SAMI, and Mellon are liable for the allegedly fraudulent omissions in LLC's loan documents because they aided and abetted LLC's wrongful conduct by participating in the purchase and sale of OARM loans. (Mem. I/S/O Pls.' Mot. Class Cert. 4:17-24.)
Plaintiff now seeks certification of a class for her fraud and UCL claims. Plaintiff defines the class as follows:
All individuals in the United States of America who, between January 24, 2004 and the date that notice is mailed to the Class, obtained an Option ARM loan originated by LOAN CENTER OF CALIFORNIA, INC. with the following characteristics:
(i) The numerical interest rate listed on page one of the Promissory Note is 3.0% or less;
(ii) The Note uses the term "may" instead of "will or shall" change when describing an increase of the listed numerical rate. E.g.: "The interest rate I pay may change";
(iii)The margin amount added to the index for the loan is equal to or greater than 1.75%;
(iv) The promissory note does not contain any statement that paying the amount listed as the "initial monthly payment" "will," as opposed to "may," result in negative amortization after the first interest rate change date.
A class action will be certified only if it meets the four prerequisites identified in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and additionally fits within one of the three subdivisions of Rule 23(b). Although a district court has discretion in determining whether the moving party has satisfied each Rule 23 requirement, Califano v. Yamasaki, 442 U.S. 682, 701 (1979); Montgomery v. Rumsfeld, 572 F.2d 250, 255 (9th Cir. 1978), the court must conduct a rigorous inquiry before certifying a class. Gen. Tel. Co. of the Sw. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 161 (1982); E. Tex. Motor Freight Sys. v. Rodriguez, 431 U.S. 395, 403-05 (1977).
Implicit in Rule 23 is the requirement that the class must be adequately defined and clearly ascertainable. DeBremaecker v. Short, 433 F.2d 733, 734 (5th Cir. 1970); see also Lozano v. AT&T Wireless Servs., Inc., 504 F.3d 718, (9th Cir. 2007). A class definition must be "precise, objective, and presently ascertainable." O'Connor v. Boeing North Am., Inc., 197 F.R.D. 404, 416 (C.D. Cal. 2000) (quotation marks omitted). "An adequate class definition specifies 'a distinct group of plaintiffs whose members [can] be identified with particularity.'" Campbell v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 253 F.R.D. 586, 593 (E.D. Cal. 2008) (quoting Lerwill v. In-flight Motion Pictures, Inc., 582 F.2d 507, 512 (9th Cir. 1978)).
Plaintiff's class definition consists of a defined group of individuals--those who purchased OARM loans from LCC whose loans contained four distinct terms. The members of the class can easily be determined by reference to their loan documents, which would allow precise and objective ascertainment of the members of the class. Plaintiff contends that she is aware of 181 such loans that were bought, serviced, and securitized by defendants. Plaintiff will be likely able to identify the remaining class members through the records of defendants. Although plaintiff may not be able to identify every potential class member at this time, this does not preclude the class definition from being ascertainable. See Mazur v. Ebay, Inc., 257 F.R.D. 563, 566 (N.D. Cal. 2009) ("[T]he class ...