Procedural Posture

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Plaintiff customer appealed an order of the Superior Court of San Diego County (California), which denied his motion to modify the class definition to certify a nationwide plaintiff class and deemed moot his motion to amend the complaint, in plaintiff’s action against defendant corporations alleging that defendants charged subscribers to their long distance service for unanswered long distance calls without disclosure.

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Overview

Plaintiff customer filed a class action against defendant corporations for fraud, misrepresentation, and unfair business practices, alleging that defendants charged customers of their long distance telephone service for certain unanswered long distance calls without disclosure. Plaintiff filed a motion to modify the definition of the certified class to include all customers nationwide, not just California residents, and a motion to amend the complaint. The trial court denied the motions. On appeal, the court reversed, holding that the trial court made erroneous legal assumptions and used improper criteria for the class certification. The court found that in order for California to have exercised its jurisdiction over the claims of nonresident plaintiffs, California must have had significant contact to the claims asserted by each member of the class to ensure that the choice of law was not arbitrary. The court found that the trial court had not determined whether California law had applied to the claims of the proposed nationwide class members who were not residents of California. The court remanded for the trial court to determine plaintiff’s motions under the appropriate analysis.

Outcome

The court reversed the trial court’s order denying modification of class definition and deeming moot the motion to amend complaint in plaintiff customer’s action against defendant corporations for charging customers for certain unanswered long distance telephone calls. The court held that the trial court’s denial of plaintiff’s motion for modification of the class was based upon improper criteria and erroneous legal assumptions.

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