I hate Alvarez v. May Dept. Stores Co., 143 Cal. App. 4th 1223 (2006). My supplemental briefing in that case was uncannily prescient of parts of Taylor v. Sturgell, 128 S.Ct. 2161 (2008). But did the Court of Appeal rule in my favor. Nooooo. Did the U.S. Supreme Court take my case to correct that gross misinterpretation of collateral estoppel rules in uncertified class actions? Nooooo. But along comes Bridgeford v. Pacific Health (January 18, 2012), in which the Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Three) did what I so wanted to do. They stabbed Alvarez dead, dead, dead.
Here are the money quotes:
California courts have held or suggested that the denial of class certification can establish collateral estoppel against absent putative class members on issues that were actually decided in connection with the denial. (Alvarez v. May Dept. Stores Co. (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 1223, 1236; Bufil v. Dollar Financial Group, Inc. (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 1193, 1202-1203 (Bufil); see also Johnson v. GlaxoSmithKline, Inc. (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 1497, 1510-1513 & fn. 8 (Johnson) [assuming the point while expressing reservations].) Alvarez stated that the principles of collateral estoppel ensure that the absent putative class members' interests were adequately represented in the prior proceeding. (Alvarez, supra, at p. 1236.) We conclude to the contrary that if no class was certified by the court in the prior proceeding, the interests of absent putative class members were not represented in the prior proceeding and the requirements for collateral estoppel cannot be established, as we shall explain.
Slip op., at 11. The Court then explained:
The United States Supreme Court, however, in Smith v. Bayer Corporation, supra, 131 S.Ct. 2368, recently resolved the issue. Applying common law principles of issue preclusion, the high court held that unnamed putative class members cannot be bound by issue preclusion if the class was never certified in the prior proceeding. (Id. at pp. 2380-2381.) Smith v. Bayer Corporation stated, “[n]either a proposed class action nor a rejected class action may bind nonparties” (id. at p. 2380), and, “[t]he great weight of scholarly authority . . . agrees that an uncertified class action cannot bind proposed class members.” (Id. at p. 2381, fn. 11.) The high court explained that unnamed putative class members as nonparties can be bound by issue preclusion only if there was a properly certified class because only in those circumstances can the court in the later proceeding conclude that their interests were adequately represented in the prior proceeding. (Id. at pp. 2379-2381 & fn. 11.)
We find the reasoning in Smith v. Bayer Corporation, supra, 131 S.Ct. 2368, persuasive and conclude, under California law, that the denial of class certification cannot establish collateral estoppel against unnamed putative class members on any issue because unnamed putative class members were neither parties to the prior proceeding nor represented by a party to the prior proceeding so as to be considered in privity with such a party for purposes of collateral estoppel.
Slip op., at 12-13.
Back to your crypt for all eternity, foul spawn of darkness.