Yesterday, in Bateman v. American Multi-Cinema, Inc., ___ F.3d ___ (9th Cir. Sept. 27, 2010), the Ninth Circuit reversed an order denying class certification of a claim brought under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act ("FACTA"), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq. The opinion focuses on the "superiority" element of class certification and holds, among other things, that Rule 23 does not permit the trial court to consider whether the defendant's potential liability under FACTA would be disproportionate to the class members' actual damages.
The Court declined to follow a number of earlier cases involving the Truth-in-Lending Act (15 U.S.C. §§1601 et seq.), in which courts considered such a factor in in denying class certification. Instead, the Court held that "the Rule 23(b)(3) superiority analysis must be consistent with the congressional intent in enacting a particular statutory damages provision." Slip op. at 16372. The decision to reverse the order denying class certification hinged on some significant differences between the legislative history and purpose of the two Acts.