The little-used defendant class is recognized in Farwell v. Sunset Mesa Property Owners Association, Inc.

Greatsealcal100The Court of Appeal (Second District, Division Eight) penned a brief gem of a comment that will be of interest to class action practitioners (and nobody else on the planet).  In Farwell v. Sunset Mesa Property Owners Association, Inc. (June 18, 2008) ___ Cal.App.4th ___, the Court, probably unnecessarily, went to the trouble of summarizing the long history of defendant class actions (actions in which a class of defendants comprise the class, as opposed to plaintiff class actions, where a class of plaintiffs comprise the class):

We note here that the adequacy of the representation of a defendant class is not a novel problem and has engaged the attention of the courts and text writers. (See cases and materials collected in 2 Conte & Newberg, Newberg on Class Actions (4th ed. 2002) § 4:60, pp. 375-384.) It is by no means an insurmountable task to identify persons who can serve as representatives of a defendant class, although the dynamics of such a class are different from that of a plaintiff class. (Id., § 4.46, pp. 336-339.)  Indeed, defendant classes have a long history, dating back to 1853.  (Id., § 4.46, p. 338, citing Smith v. Swormstedt (1853) 57 U.S. 288.) California has also long recognized defendant classes. (E.g., Wheelock v. First Presb. Church (1897) 119 Cal. 477, 481-482; Rosicrucian Fellow. v. Rosicrucian Etc. Ch. (1952) 39 Cal.2d 121, 139-140.)

(Slip op., at p. 6.)  As it turns out, the Court of Appeal decided that the Order in question was not appealable.  Thus, the wind-up about defendant class actions is purely of academic interest.

The only problem with this opinion is its title.  Whenever I see that a home owners' association is involved in litigation, I immediately write off the opinion as resulting from a mundane but intractable dispute between a nutball resident (likely with too many cats) and group of self-anointed potentates that enjoy too much their tiny universe of almost boundless power.  And so I learn my lesson.  Occasionally, even home owners' association litigation results in something interesting.  And if it wasn't for the more tolerant eyes of the UCL Practitioner, I would have remained blissfully ignorant of this opinion.

[Via UCL Practitioner]