HDRB&B Defeats Class Certification at Pleading Stage

(River Edge, NJ; June 5, 2017) The New Jersey Superior Court, Bergen County, entered an order today denying class certification in a putative consumer fraud class action filed against an HDRBB client. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant – a prominent New Jersey vehicle towing company – had violated the Predatory Towing Prevention Act (PTPA), as well as the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) and the Truth in Consumer Contract Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA), by charging fees not permitted under the PTPA. HDRBB filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the case could not proceed as a class action because the issue of whether each individual class member suffered a loss or not, that is, whether each class member received services in exchange for each of the fees charged or not, would predominate over any class-wide issues. The Superior Court agreed and ordered that Plaintiff’s case could not proceed as a class action. The decision is notable because class certification is often decided only after discovery has been completed, imposing a significant cost on defendants. The Superior Court here, however, denied class certification at the motion to dismiss stage, agreeing with Defendant that the issue of class certification can and should be decided on a Defendant’s pre-answer motion to dismiss the class claims, avoiding the costs and complications of class action litigation where appropriate.

The case is Pellegrino v. Nick’s Towing Service, Inc., et al., No. BER-L-1606-17. Defendants were represented by Paul S. Doherty, III, Jeremy B. Stein, and Christine M. Caputo. Jeremy Stein argued for Defendants.