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Unpaid balance bars woman from being class representative in class-action complaint

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Even though a trial court initially certified a class in a lawsuit, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled in a case of first impression that the lower court can change its mind.

Tequita Ramsey filed an interlocutory appeal, arguing the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the temporary decertification of a class.

Ramsey originally filed a complaint in small claims court after a car she bought from Lightning Corp., d/b/a/ First Class Car Co., developed mechanical problems the same day she drove it off the lot. She had paid $1,400 toward the purchase price of $1,791.40 and agreed to make payments on the remaining $391.40.

When Lightning refused to refund the money, Ramsey filed the complaint then amended that complaint to include a class-action claim. Specifically, she alleged that the $199 document preparation fee the dealer charged on all its sales was a violation of Indiana Code 9-23-3-6.5.

The trial court granted the class certification order but later granted Lightning’s motion to modify that order. Lightning held Ramsey was not an appropriate class representative because the $1,400 she had paid did not include the $199 document preparation fee.

On appeal, Ramsey countered that she has standing to be a class representative because Lightning was suing her for the remaining balance due under the sales agreement.

In Tequita Ramsey v. Lightning Corporation, 49A02-1209-CC-705, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in decertifying the class. The COA stated it could find no logical reason to hold that the trial court may never revoke or rescind such an order.

As to Ramsey’s argument that she is a class representative because she is being sued for the amount that includes the document preparation fee, the appeals court was unconvinced.

“In our view, Ramsey’s argument is only speculative,” Judge John Baker wrote. “Ramsey should not be permitted to breach her contract with Lightning by failing to pay the amounts required under the purchase documents, and then when Lightning sues her for non-payment, be conferred the rights and benefits as if she had satisfied her obligations under the contract.”

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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