733 F.2d 1562 (11th Cir. 1984), 82-3142, Love v. Turlington

Docket Nº:82-3142.
Citation:733 F.2d 1562
Party Name:Renita LOVE, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Ralph D. TURLINGTON, as Commissioner of Education; Florida State Board of Education, Governor Robert Graham, Etc., Et Al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:June 11, 1984
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Page 1562

733 F.2d 1562 (11th Cir. 1984)

Renita LOVE, on behalf of herself and others similarly

situated, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Ralph D. TURLINGTON, as Commissioner of Education; Florida

State Board of Education, Governor Robert Graham,

Etc., Et Al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 82-3142.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

June 11, 1984

Page 1563

Stephen F. Hanlon, Robert Shapiro, Tampa, Fla., Diana Pullin, Robert Pressman, Center for Law & Educ., Cambridge, Mass., Stephen Cotton, Center for Law & Education, Inc., Cambridge, Mass., for plaintiff-appellant.

Judith A. Brechner, Deputy Gen. Counsel, Tallahassee, Fla., for State Bd. of Educ.

B. Edwin Johnson, Clearwater, Fla., for School Bd. of Pinellas County.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Before GODBOLD, Chief Judge, RONEY and KRAVITCH, Circuit Judges.

RONEY, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff Renita Love appeals the district court's denial of class certification in this action challenging the constitutionality of the SSAT-I (State Student Assessment Test), a basic skills test administered to eleventh graders throughout the state of Florida. The SSAT-I is designed to identify students who have not mastered one or more of the minimum performance standards defined in regulations promulgated pursuant to statute. See Fla.Stat. Sec. 232.246(1)(a); Fla.Admin.Code Rule 6A-1.942(1)(d). Students who fail the test are targeted for remedial assistance. A disproportionately large number of these students are black.

Plaintiff contends that the state's use of the SSAT-I to create a pool of students "at risk" of not receiving a diploma carries forward prior racial discrimination suffered by black students who attended inferior

Page 1564

schools in the dual school system, and that inadequate notice was given regarding the test and its objectives.

We hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying class certification on grounds that the commonality and typicality required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(2) and (3) are absent in this case. The district judge had before him the uncontested affidavits presented by the defendant which specified that (1) passage of the SSAT-I is not a requirement for receipt of a high school diploma in Florida, and (2) determinations of remedial assistance to be given those students who fail the SSAT-I are made on a district-by-district basis, and the findings of diploma eligibility are made for each student individually.

While it is true that a trial court may not properly reach the merits of a claim when determining whether class certification is warranted, Miller v. Mackey International, Inc., 452 F.2d 424, 428 (5th Cir.1971), this principle should not be talismanically invoked to artifically limit a trial court's examination of the factors necessary to a reasoned determination of whether a plaintiff has met her burden of establishing each of the Rule 23 class action requirements. In Huff v. N.D. Cass Company of Alabama, 485 F.2d 710, 713 (5th Cir.1973) (en banc), the Court refused to "accept the idea that to avoid infringing the plaintiff's and the class's right to jury trial district judges must be barred from making any evidentiary inquiry," and further "reject[ed] ... the argument that the judge is...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP