In Medrazo v. Honda of North Hollywood, ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Jul. 29, 2008; pub. ord. Aug. 21, 2008), the Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Four) reversed an order denying class certification of UCL and CLRA claims predicated on the defendant's violation of certain Vehicle Code provisions. (The opinion refers to the UCL as the "Unfair Business Practices Act" or "UPA." Slip op. at 3.)
The Court of Appeal determined (among other things) that the trial court had erred by interpreting the relevant Vehicle Code provisions and deciding whether the defendant could have violated them. That, the Court of Appeal held, was an improper merits determination prohibited at the class certification stage. Id. at 8-9 (citing Linder v. Thrifty Oil Co., 23 Cal.4th 429 (2000)). The Court of Appeal expressedly declined to reach or decide the statutory interpretation question itself, and pointed out that other remarks the trial court made on the record also crossed the line into the merits. Id. at 9 n.4.
This is a good opinion because the types of merits determinations the trial court made seem to be more and more common, yet Linder prohibits them, as the Medrazo court recognized. The Medrazo opinion also discusses typicality, the use of subclasses, predominance of common questions as a comparative concept under Sav-on, and acertainability. For more on the opinion, see this post from The Complex Litigator.