In an opinion today, Judge Stein denied a motion to decertify a class action against the dating service “It’s Just Lunch” (see our prior coverage here) and concluded that many of the objections to the class could be solved by modifying the previous class definition so that there was a firm end date for the class period:

The complications created by an open-ended class period may be characterized in several ways. Such a class may run into issues of ascertainability, which requires that a class definition establish the definite boundaries of a readily identifiable class; or it may become unmanageable, particularly with respect to Rule 23(b)(3)’ s notice and opt-out requirements. . . . Another way to frame the issue is that the record will necessarily lack evidence that the requirements of Rule 23 are met with regard to the portion of the class period that stretches beyond the close of discovery.

However these problems are conceived, the solution . . . is for the Court to exercise its authority pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(c)(1)(C) to modify the class definition to close the class period on a specific date . . .

In this case, closing the class period at the original certification date avoids the thorny questions of geographical and temporal variation among class members raised by defendants in their motion to decertify, because the Court has already decided — on the basis of “the evidence to date” as of May 14, 2014 — that defendants’ conduct from 2001 to 2014, across all franchise locations, was sufficiently cohesive to support class certification.

Accordingly, the Court will cut the Gordian knot by modifying the class period in the National Class definition to cover individuals who purchased defendants’ services “on or after October 15, 2001, up through and including May 14, 2014.”

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Photo of Charles Michael Charles Michael

Charles Michael has successfully handled a wide range of commercial litigation matters.  He has obtained favorable settlements or dismissals on behalf of clients accused of securities fraud, intellectual property infringement, antitrust violations, wrongful termination and breach of contract.  He has also successfully represented clients bringing claims for breach of fiduciary duty, trademark infringement, breach of contract, and professional malpractice.

He is the founder and editor of the SDNY Blog which covers civil litigation and trial practice in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.  Additionally, Mr. Michael has recently given several presentations to in-house counsel at private equity firms and others about limiting the risk of being held responsible in court for portfolio company liabilities, and preserving the attorney-client privilege among corporate affiliates.