United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
TERRY G. WATSON, Plaintiff,
KAREY L. WITTY, et al., Defendants.
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's “Motion
for Class Action, ” [Doc. No. 134]. Defendants have
responded to the Motion, per the Court's Order of
February 14, 2019. For the reasons set forth below, the
Motion is denied.
“Motion for Class Action, ” Plaintiff states that
the number of disabled and elderly persons affected by the
unconstitutional bedding incarcerated at MDOC is so large
that it is impractical for each claimant to bring suit and
appear in court; that the violations of the Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendments; 42 U.S.C. § 12131, et
seq. Title of the ADA; Section 504 Federal
Rehabilitation Act; Missouri Human Rights Act, are violations
and questions of law and fact common to the class; the claims
made by Plaintiff are similar to the claims of all class
members; and Plaintiff, through a court appointed attorney is
able to fairly and adequately protect the interest of the
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, a motion for class
certification involves a two-part analysis. First, under Rule
23(a), the proposed class must satisfy the requirements of
“numerosity, commonality, typicality, and fair and
adequate representation.” Luiken v. Domino's
Pizza, LLC, 705 F.3d 370, 372 (8th Cir. 2013). Second,
the proposed class must meet at least one of the three
requirements of Rule 23(b). Comcast Corp. v.
Behrend, 569 U.S. 27, 33 (2013).
carry the burden to show that the class should be certified.
See Luiken, 705 F.3d at 372. This burden is
met only if, “after a rigorous analysis, ” the
Court is convinced the Rule 23 requirements are satisfied.
Comcast, 569 U.S. At 33 (quoting Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 341 (2011)).
be certified as a class, plaintiffs must meet all of the
requirements of Rule 23(a) and must satisfy one of the three
subsections of Rule 23(b).” In re St. Jude Med.,
Inc., 425 F.3d 1116, 1119 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing
Amchem Prod., Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 614,
117 S.Ct. 2231, 138 L.Ed.2d 689 (1997); Blades v.
Monsanto Co., 400 F.3d 562, 568-69 (8th Cir. 2005)).
Plaintiffs carry the burden of showing that they have met
those requirements. See Luiken v. Domino's Pizza,
LLC, 705 F.3d 370, 372 (8th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Coleman v. Watt, 40 F.3d 255, 258 (8th Cir. 1994)).
District courts must engage in a “rigorous
analysis” to determine whether the requirements of Rule
23 have been satisfied. Falcon, 457 U.S. at 161, 102
S.Ct. 2364 (1982). We will “reverse a certification
where there has been an abuse of discretion.” Ebert
v. Gen. Mills, Inc., 823 F.3d 472, 477 (8th Cir. 2016)
(quoting Smith v. ConocoPhillips Pipe Line Co., 801
F.3d 921, 925 (8th Cir. 2015)). A district court abuses its
discretion if it commits an error of law. Sandusky
Wellness Ctr., LLC v. Medtox Sci., Inc., 821 F.3d 992,
995 (8th Cir. 2016) (citing In re Zurn Pex Plumbing
Prods. Liab. Litig., 644 F.3d 604, 616 (8th Cir. 2011)).
“[T]he district court's factual findings underlying
the certification ruling are reviewed under the
‘clearly erroneous' standard.”
Ebert, 823 F.3d at 477 (quoting Blades, 400
F.3d at 566).
decision to certify a class is far from a conclusive judgment
on the merits of the case.” In re Zurn Pex Plumbing
Prod. Liab. Litig., 644 F.3d at 613. For that reason,
“Rule 23 grants courts no license to engage in
free-ranging merits inquiries at the certification
stage.” Amgen Inc. v. Conn. Ret. Plans & Trust
Funds, 568 U.S. 455, 466, 133 S.Ct. 1184, 185 L.Ed.2d
308 (2013). “Merits questions may be considered to the
extent-but only to the extent-that they are relevant to
determining whether the Rule 23 prerequisites for class
certification are satisfied.” Id. Our primary
task is not to determine the final disposition of a
plaintiff's claims, but instead to examine whether those
claims are appropriate for class resolution. See In re
Zurn Pex Plumbing Prod. Liab. Litig., 644 F.3d at 613
(quoting Coopers & Lybrand v. Livesay, 437 U.S.
463, 469 n. 11, 98 S.Ct. 2454, 57 L.Ed.2d 351 (1978))
(explaining that the “tentative” nature of
inquiry on a motion for class certification means that a
court “must determine only” if Rule 23's
requirements have been met).
v. Missouri Dep't of Corr., 910 F.3d 1030, 1036-38
(8th Cir. 2018).
Defendants correctly argue, Plaintiff's motion for class
certification is based on Count II of Plaintiff's First
Amended Complaint. On January 7, 2019, the Court granted
summary judgment on Count II, which was brought against the
Missouri Department of Corrections' employees for failing
to accommodate Plaintiff's alleged back, neck, and leg
pain disabilities in relation to bunk beds and mattresses at
the Couth Central Correctional Center and at the Moberly
Correctional Center. Since Count II is no longer a viable
claim, Plaintiff cannot establish that he can fairly and
adequately protect the interests of the class, as required by
Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's
Motion for Class ...