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June 7, 2019

West Virginia Team Addresses Class Certification Issue in Appeal

West Virginia Managing Partner Marc Williams, with assistance from associate Chris Smith, represented West Virginia University Hospitals Inc. and West Virginia United Health System Inc. in a case that could ultimately change the way state courts must look at certifying classes in potential class-action lawsuits.

In a June 5 opinion, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia unanimously ruled that a Monongalia Circuit Court judge exceeded his powers by certifying a class “while failing to conduct a sufficiently thorough analysis of the case to determine whether the commonality required for class certification … is present.” The Court found that on the issue of the commonality of the claims, the Court should have  applied a standard espoused by the United States Supreme Court in a 2011 case. The Court remanded the case to the circuit court judge, urging him to determine if the requirements for a class are met and, if so, to “craft a class definition consistent with such findings.”

“We’re gratified that the Supreme Court of Appeals has unanimously held that the standards for class certification in state courts should be more in line with the federal courts,” Williams said. “It increases predictability for litigants on both sides.”

Williams has long argued that the state’s class actions laws need to be a little more in line with other states and with federal courts.

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