ILNews

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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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