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United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
March 9, 2011, Decided; March 9, 2011, Filed
[*888] HILL, Circuit Judge:
In this case alleging environmental contamination, defendant Raytheon Company (Raytheon) appeals from an interlocutory order granting class-action certification under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(f). The plaintiffs are Nancy Sher, James R. Abel, Carol A. Caleca, Louis Ciocondo, Betty L. Key, (the Plaintiffs). The Plaintiffs purport to represent a class consisting of all owners of real property impacted by the alleged contamination. This appeal pertains to only the grant of class certification by the district court, not the merits [**2] of the case.
We hold that the district court erred as matter of law by not sufficiently evaluating and weighing conflicting expert testimony presented by the parties at the class certification stage. 2 See Vega v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., 564 F.3d 1256, 1264 (11th Cir. 2009). We conclude that facts have not been determined sufficient to support certifying a class at this time. Thus, the district court, in its Rule 23 analysis, erred as a matter of law in granting class certification. See Klay v. United Healthgroup, Inc., 376 F.3d 1092, 1096 (11th Cir. 2004).
The Plaintiffs allege that Raytheon, through improper disposal and/or storage of hazardous waste at its St. Petersburg, Florida facility, is responsible for the release of toxic waste into the groundwater of the surrounding neighborhoods. The parties presented brief testimony of the Plaintiffs. In all, the district court held a three-day evidentiary hearing on the Plaintiffs' motion for class certification.
To demonstrate the predominance of common issues under Rule 23(b)(3), the Plaintiffs' groundwater expert, Dr. Philip Bedient, identified the impacted area as a toxic underground [**3] plume stretching approximately one mile long and 1.7 miles [*889] wide from the Raytheon facility. 3
In an effort to prove that the claims of the Plaintiffs for compensatory and punitive damages for property injury could be appropriately resolved in a single class action, the Plaintiffs presented the affidavit of their damages expert, Dr. John A. Kilpatrick. He stated that he could develop a hedonic multiple regression model to determine diminution-in-value damages without resorting to an individualized consideration of each of the various properties.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
419 Fed. Appx. 887 *; 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 4902 **
NANCY SHER, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, JAMES R. ABEL, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, CAROL A. CALECA, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, LOUIS GIOCONDO, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, BETTY L. KEY, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellees, LINDA SWARTOUT, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, et al., Consolidated-Plaintiffs, versus RAYTHEON COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant.
Notice: PLEASE REFER TO FEDERAL RULES OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE RULE 32.1 GOVERNING THE CITATION TO UNPUBLISHED OPINIONS.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. D.C. Docket No. 08-00889-CV-T-33-AEP.
Sher v. Raytheon Co., 261 F.R.D. 651, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93127 (M.D. Fla., 2009)
district court, class certification, Plaintiffs', certifying
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Appellate Review, Judicial Discretion, Prerequisites for Class Action, General Overview, Certification of Classes, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Admissibility, Expert Witnesses, Daubert Standard