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Hubler Chevrolet, Inc. v. GMC Corp. - 193 F.R.D. 574 (S.D. Ind. 2000)

Rule:

In the context of class certification, plaintiffs must show that the putative class is so numerous that joinder of all class members is impracticable. Fed R. Civ. P. 23(a)(1). While there is no magic number held to satisfy this requirement, classes of forty or more members have generally been found to be sufficiently numerous. 

Facts:

Plaintiffs, a group of Indiana automobile dealers who sell vehicles manufactured by General Motors (GM), a Delaware corporation, brought this action against GM on behalf of all Indiana dealers alleging that GM's marketing scheme violates the Indiana Deceptive Franchise Practices Act (IDFPA, Ind. Code 23-2-2.7-2(1)) and constitutes criminal conversion and unjust enrichment. Plaintiffs claim that GM unlawfully altered its marketing program, under which it collects from dealers an extra one (1) percent of the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of new cars sold. Formerly, the dealers authorized GM's collection of the one percent charge because GM redistributed the money to regional dealer marketing groups (DMGs) for use in local advertising campaigns. In April of 1999, GM began to retain the monies previously earmarked for local marketing efforts, announcing that it would now spend this money on national advertising. Plaintiffs' Complaint seeks to enjoin GM from assessing the alleged marketing charge against Indiana GM dealers, a declaration that the marketing funds in question belong to the dealers, disgorgement of illegal benefits that GM has derived from its marketing program since April of 1999, treble damages for conversion, and attorney fees under the IDFPA and Ind. Code 9-23-6-9. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, Plaintiffs moved for certification of a class defined as all GM dealers located in Indiana.

Issue:

Should the class certification be granted because their class was over 200, they shared an identical claim, their representative party fairly and adequately protected their interests, and discovery was simplified?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court granted class certification because plaintiffs satisfied the prerequisites of class certification under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23. Plaintiff's class was over 200 plaintiffs, they shared an identical legal claim that the one-percent charge collected by defendants belonged to plaintiffs, their representative party fairly and adequately protected the interests of the class, and the class action simplified discovery.

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