108 P.3d 917 (Ariz. 2005), CV-04-0277, Fernandez v. Takata Seat Belts, Inc.
|Citation:||108 P.3d 917, 210 Ariz. 138|
|Opinion Judge:|| The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ryan, Justice|
|Party Name:||Eleanora FERNANDEZ, individually and on behalf of all similarly situated persons, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. TAKATA SEAT BELTS, Inc., Nissan North America, Inc.; General Motors Corporation; Ford Motor Company; DaimlerChrysler Corporation; SGS U.S. Testing Company, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.|
|Attorney:|| Rake & Catanese, PC; Phoenix By: David J. Catanese Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant Bowman & Brooke, Llp By: Paul G. Cereghini; Phoenix  Jill S. Goldsmith James C. Goodwin Attorneys for Defendants-Appellees Takata Seat Belts, Inc., General Motors Corporation, and Nissan North America, Inc...|
|Case Date:||March 24, 2005|
|Court:||Supreme Court of Arizona|
Rake & Catanese, PC, by David J. Catanese, Phoenix, Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant.
Bowman & Brooke, LLP, by Paul G. Cereghini, Jill S. Goldsmith, James C. Goodwin, Phoenix, Attorneys for Defendants-Appellees Takata Seat Belts, Inc., General Motors Corporation, and Nissan North America, Inc.
Carpenter & Lipps LLP, by Michael H. Carpenter, Columbus, Ohio, Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee Takata Seat Belts, Inc.
Snell & Wilmer LLP, by Martha E. Gibbs, Gregory J. Marshall, Phoenix and O'Melveny & Myers LLP, by Brian C. Anderson, Washington, D.C., Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee Ford Motor Company.
Snell & Wilmer LLP, by Patrick X. Fowler, Phoenix and Hogan & Hartson, LLP, by Lewis H. Goldfarb, Christopher B. Wren, New York, New York, Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee DaimlerChrysler Corporation.
Keller Rohrback, PLC, by Leon B. Silver, Phoenix, Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee SGS U.S. Testing Company, Inc.
Pacific Legal Foundation, by Deborah J. La Fetra, Gregory T. Broderick, Sacramento, California, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Pacific Legal Foundation.
¶ 1 In this case, we must decide whether a plaintiff who has no individual claim against a defendant may allege class action claims against that defendant and require the defendant to remain as a party to the lawsuit because she seeks to represent a class of other purported plaintiffs, some of whom may have claims against the defendant.
¶ 2 Eleanora Fernandez brought a class action lawsuit 1 against, among others, Takata Seat Belts, SGS U.S. Testing Company, Inc., Nissan North America, General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and DaimlerChrysler Corporation. She alleged fraudulent concealment, violation of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, unjust enrichment, and constructive trust. Fernandez claimed that between 1986 and 1999, several automobile manufacturers installed in their vehicles TK-52 seatbelt buckles manufactured by Takata and tested by SGS U.S. Testing. She alleged that the TK-52 buckles were defective because they could disengage in accidents. She also contended that all of the defendants knew about this supposed defect and that they concealed this risk from consumers.
¶ 3 The complaint did not specify the make or model of the automobile Fernandez owned. But she later conceded that she did not own a Nissan, General Motors, Ford, or DaimlerChrysler vehicle. These four automobile manufacturers filed a motion to dismiss for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Ariz. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The superior court dismissed all of Fernandez's claims, concluding that she had failed to allege essential elements of each of her four claims.
¶ 4 Fernandez appealed. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's dismissal of her individual claims against the four automobile manufacturers. Fernandez v. Takata Seat Belts, et al., 1-CA-CV 03-0473, pp 11-12 (Ariz.App. June 10, 2004) (mem.decision). Under the standard of review for a motion to dismiss, however, the court stated that "until such time as the trial court issues an order determining whether a class action can be maintained in this case," it would "decline to review the viability of Plaintiff's class action claims against the automobile manufacturers in her representative capacity." Id. at ¶ 13.
¶ 5 The automobile manufacturers petitioned for review, 2 contending that Fernandez's "inability to assert individual claims against the automobile manufacturers precludes her from suing" them "on behalf of a proposed class." We granted review because this is a matter of first impression for this court. We have jurisdiction under Article 6, Section 5(3), of the Arizona Constitution, Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") section 12-120.24 (2003), and Rule 23 of the Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure.
¶ 6 We have previously...
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