The Supreme Court of Texas voted 5-3 today to decertify a class action. The class representative, a company that audits telephone bills and seeks refunds for customers, alleged on behalf of a Texas class that Southwestern Bell overcharged by collecting municipal fees it did not have to pay. The majority held that the assignee couldn't adequately represent the interests of the class. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. v. Marketing on Hold, Inc., No. 05-4078 (Tex. Feb. 19, 2010).
The dissent said the record disclosed no actual conflict between the assignee and other class members, only hypothetical ones. The opinion also noted an upside: "In my view, STA's unique expertise gives it an ability superior to that of any other class member to pursue this litigation as class representative and supervise the activities of class counsel, as the trial court found." Id. at 2 (O'Neill, J., dissenting).
The Court held the class certification order otherwise proper.
Blawgletter cannot recall any class action that the Court has allowed to proceed in the last decade. In November 2007, we counted 14 (out of 15) cases that went the other way.