Los Angeles Judge Elects Generalized “Common Issue” to Justify Class Certification

Shannon Nessier 
Shannon Nessier
July 18, 2017

Walt Disney (“Disney”) suffered a loss last week in an adverse employment action based on its use of information in consumer reports as part of its employment screening process.  The plaintiffs have alleged that they were injured when inaccurate credit reporting information, which they had no opportunity to challenge or correct, became a factor in Disney’s denial of employment.  On July 13, 2017, the Court entered an order granting class certification over objections by Disney to, among other issues, the existence of predominant common questions of fact.  In reaching its decision, the Court elected to define the commons issues as framed by the more generalized issues advanced by plaintiffs than the specific factual issues Disney identified would be necessary to assess the class members and their alleged damages.

According to Disney’s briefing, there are already at least five different, individualized fact issues for each class member that would make class certification unmanageable and inappropriate.   Disney explained that plaintiffs had different adverse notices, different follow up encounters with Disney officials, different outcomes, different responses from the reporting agency, and as a result, common questions of fact not only did not predominate, they did not exist.   However, citing directly to the plaintiffs’ reply brief, the Court instead chose to frame the issues for the case very generally: essentially, these plaintiffs had reports which resulted in negative impacts on their hiring.  According to the Judge, that was the common issue, not the specific issues identified by Disney, and it was sufficiently common and it predominated.

The underlying action can be found at Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BC526351, Roger L. Culberson II v. The Walt Disney Co.