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Sandoval v. County of Sonoma

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 3, 2015

RAFAEL MATEOS SANDOVAL, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF SONOMA, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF RUIZ'S MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION

THELTON E. HENDERSON, District Judge.

This matter came before the Court on February 2, 2015, on Plaintiff Simeon Avendano Ruiz's motion for class certification. The Court has carefully considered the arguments of the parties at the hearing and in the papers submitted, and hereby DENIES Plaintiff's motion, for the reasons set forth below.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Simeon Avendano Ruiz ("Ruiz") challenges the impoundment of his vehicle for driving without a license. Ruiz had previously been issued a driver's license in Mexico. Ruiz Dep., Ex. A to Jackson Decl. at 19 (Docket No. 195). On September 1, 2011, Ruiz's vehicle was impounded for thirty days under California Vehicle Code section 14602.6, which authorizes the impoundment of the vehicle of a driver who has never been issued a driver's license. Ex. D to Cook Decl. at 32 (Docket No. 187).

In October of 2014, on cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court found that the thirty-day impoundment of Plaintiff Ruiz's vehicle was unreasonable, and therefore violated the Fourth Amendment. October 29, 2014 Order at 19 (Docket No. 205). The Court held that, regardless of the validity of the initial seizure, it was unreasonable to hold Ruiz's car for thirty days under the facts of his case. Id.

Ruiz now moves to certify a class of similarly situated individuals against the Santa Rosa City Defendants.

LEGAL STANDARD

Class certification is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Rule 23(a) requires that a party seeking certification demonstrate that:

1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a).

While Rule 23(a) does not expressly require a class to be ascertainable, courts have read the rule to imply this additional requirement. In re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litig., 267 F.R.D. 291, 299 (N.D. Cal. 2010) (abrogated on other grounds by In re ATM Fee Antitrust Litig., 686 F.3d 741, 755 n.7 (9th Cir. 2012)).

A party seeking certification must also demonstrate that the suit falls into one of the categories of class actions set out within Rule 23(b). Zinser v. Accufix Research Inst., Inc., 253 F.3d 1180, 1186 (9th Cir. 2001). Subsection (b)(1) allows certification where "prosecuting separate actions... would create a risk of: (A) inconsistent or varying adjudications... or (B) adjudications... that, as a practical matter, would be dispositive of the interests of the other members not parties to the individual adjudications...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(1). Subsection (b)(2) applies where the defendant acted or failed to act on grounds generally applicable to the proposed class, "so that final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate." Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(2). Subsection (b)(3) applies where "questions of law or fact common to class ...


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