Many thanks to the reader who alerted me to Wolfert v. Transamerica Home First, Inc., ___ F.3d ___ (2d Cir. Feb. 24, 2006), a recent opinion from the Second Circuit. In Wolfert, a nationwide UCL class action settlement that was approved by the San Mateo County Superior Court in 2003 survived various "due process" challenges and was upheld under the doctrine of res judicata. The Second Circuit determined that New York laws governing reverse mortgages provided no broader protections than the UCL, so the class representatives did not inadequately represent New York class members in settling their claims pursuant to the UCL rather than the New York laws that would otherwise govern. In a word to the wise for all UCL litigants seeking to settle the claims of out-of-state plaintiffs, the Court said:
Without attempting to delineate the degree of divergence of interests that would render class representatives inadequate, it suffices to note in this case that if Mrs. Wolfert is correct that New York law affords her significant protection not available under California law, she was not adequately represented.(Slip op. at 19.) The Court also held that the form of notice to the class (by first class mail and publication) was sufficient. The case is an interesting read.