Ohio Supreme Court Rejects Class Certification in Repair-Based Lawsuit

The Ohio Supreme Court has overturned a lower court’s decision by rejecting the class certification status of a lawsuit that alleges State Farm denied some policyholders full payment on windshield damage claims because instead of paying for replacement of the windshields, it allegedly steered some policyholders toward repair. A lower court upheld the class certification and State Farm appealed the ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court.

“Here, the appellate court affirmed certification of the class pursuant to Civ.R. 23(B)(2) and (3),” the majority wrote in their ruling.

“However, because the declaratory relief at issue here is incidental to an individualized claim for monetary damages, (Michael) Cullen has not met the requirement for certification set forth in Civ.R.(B)(2). In addition, because individual questions predominate over the questions common to the proposed class, Cullen has not proven that this action satisfies Civ.R. 23(B)(3). Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and remand the matter to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion,” they continued.

In 2003, Michael Cullen spoke with a representative from Lynx Services, a third-party administrator for State Farm’s glass claims, and subsequently had his windshield repaired. In 2005, Cullen filed a complaint against State Farm, requesting class certification and a declaratory judgment that the company’s practices were “illegal and violated obligations owed by fiduciaries pursuant to Ohio law.”

“The complaint defined the class to include all State Farm policyholders on or after February 18, 1990 and alleged that State Farm had denied them full payment on windshield claims because, instead of replacing windshields, it repaired some windshields with a chemical compound that it knew or should have known was ‘only temporary, not entirely translucent and incapable of restoring the windshield to its pre-accident condition,’” according to court documents.

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