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Konarzewski v. Ganley, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

June 15, 2017

WILLIAM KONARZEWSKI, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES
v.
GANLEY, INC., ET AL. DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS

         Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-08-647589

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS A. Steven Dever A. Steven Dever Co., L.P.A. Georgia Hatzis David D. Yeagley Ulmer & Berne, L.L.P.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES Lewis A. Zipkin April Bensimone In Son J. Loving Zipkin Whiting Co., L.P.A.

          BEFORE: S. Gallagher, J., Boyle, P.J., and Laster Mays, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          SEAN C. GALLAGHER, J.

         {¶1} Defendants-appellants Ganley, Inc. and Ganley Management Co. (collectively "defendants") appeal the trial court's decision to grant the motion for class certification of plaintiffs-appellees William Konarzewski and Rachel McCormick (collectively "plaintiffs"). Upon review, we reverse the decision of the trial court.

         {¶2} On January 16, 2008, plaintiffs filed a class action complaint against defendants, [1] asserting claims individually and as representatives of a class of motor vehicle purchasers. The alleged claims included violations of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act ("OCSPA"), violations of the Ohio Retail Installment Sales Act ("RISA"), intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, fraud, and breach of contract. The putative class action involves a claim under the OCSPA arising from defendants' use of certain form documents, namely a retail sales installment contract ("RISC") and a conditional delivery agreement ("CDA"), which were alleged to contain conflicting, misleading, unconscionable, and substantially one-sided terms.

         {¶3} In the course of the proceedings, the parties filed summary judgment motions. On December 5, 2008, the trial court issued its ruling on the motions for summary judgment. In part, the trial court granted partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs, finding defendants' use of the RISC and CDA violated the OCSPA.

         {¶4} Plaintiffs also filed a motion to certify a class action for the OCSPA claims, defining the purported class as follows:

All consumers, who from within two years prior to the commencement of this action to the present, purchased or attempted to purchase a vehicle from Defendants or any dealership owned, operated, managed, or controlled by Ganley Management Co., which transaction involved the use of a RISC together with a CDA. On December 5, 2008, the trial court issued a ruling that denied class certification.

         {¶5} The ruling on class certification was reversed by a panel of this court in Konarzewski v. Ganley, Inc., 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 92623, 2009-Ohio-5827 ("Konarzewski I"). Although the court determined that the Civ.R. 23 requirements for certifying a class action had been satisfied, the court found the proposed class definition was inconsistent with the limitations on damages under the OCSPA. Id. at ¶ 44-47. The court determined that the scope of available damages for class actions brought under the OCSPA is limited and that class action plaintiffs must prove actual damages under R.C. 1345.09(B). Id. at ¶ 44-46. As a result, the court found that the trial court had abused its discretion by failing to modify the class or giving plaintiffs the opportunity to modify the class to conform with the additional requirement of actual damages found in R.C. 1345.09(B) for class actions brought for violations of the OCSPA. Id. at ¶ 49. Importantly, in Konarzewski I, the class definition, as then proposed, was never certified.

          {¶6} On remand, modified class definitions were proposed for certification. On June 10, 2016, the trial court granted class certification of a class defined as follows:

All Ganley consumers who, from within two years prior to the commencement of this action to the present, purchased a vehicle involving the use of the RISC, together with the CDA, and did not receive the benefit of the bargain and as a result suffered actual damages.

         The trial court recognized its duty to conduct a rigorous analysis when determining whether to certify a class pursuant to Civ.R. 23 and considered the Civ.R. 23 factors. The court determined that plaintiffs satisfied the requirements of Civ.R. 23 for class certification and that the class definition was sufficient to comply with the requirement of R.C. 1345.09(B) that class members must have actual damages to pursue a class ...


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