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Beveridge & Diamond Secures Class Certification Denial in Drinking Water Case

April 9, 2013

Litigators in Beveridge & Diamond’s Washington, D.C. office secured a denial of class certification on behalf of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (“DC Water”) in a major class action relating to claims of injuries due to lead allegedly found in drinking water in the city.

In Parkhurst, et al. v. D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, No. 2009 CA 000971 B (D.C. Sup. Ct. Apr. 8, 2013), the Superior Court of the District of Columbia denied Plaintiffs’ motion seeking class certification under Superior Court Rule 23(b)(3), or in the alternative, certification of certain issues under Rule 23(c)(4)(A).

In a 34-page opinion, the Court analyzed each factor under Rule 23, and held that Plaintiffs failed to satisfy the requirements for certification under Rule 23(b)(3) of numerosity, typicality, adequacy of representation, predominance, or superiority. Among other findings, the Court concluded the threshold requirement that the proposed class be identifiable had not been met; the proposed class was both over and under inclusive; and that common issues did not predominate over individual issues, notwithstanding Plaintiffs’ proposal to deal separately with common and individual issues through a bifurcated proceeding. The Court further denied Plaintiffs’ request for certification of issue classes under Rule 23(c)(4)(A). Notably, the Court rejected Plaintiffs’ argument that issue classes may be certified without meeting Rule 23(b)’s key requirement of predominance, observing that such an interpretation “would effectively read the predominance requirement out of Rule 23(b)(3),” and allow putative class representatives to “simply ask for certification of any common issues under [Rule 23](c)(4) and bypass [Rule 23](b)(3) altogether.” Id. at 29.

John Guttmann, a Principal with the Firm, is quoted in a Law360 article that discusses the case, DC Agency Won't Face Class In Lead Tap Water Suit.  Read the article here (subscription required).

Beveridge & Diamond is lead counsel for DC Water. For more information, please contact John Guttmann at jguttmann@bdlaw.com, Katherine Wesley at kwesley@bdlaw.com, or Bina Reddy at breddy@bdlaw.com.

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