Ralph v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 58965

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Citation809 S.W.2d 173
Docket NumberNo. 58965,58965
PartiesMarvin RALPH, and Catherine Wurtz, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs/Appellants, v. AMERICAN FAMILY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant/Respondent.
Decision Date07 May 1991

Kenneth Karl Vuylsteke, Bernard D. Reams, St. Louis, for plaintiffs/appellants.

Robert A. Wulff, Daniel Cody, Amelung, Wulff & Willenbrock, St. Louis, for defendant/respondent.

CRANE, Judge.

Plaintiffs Marvin Ralph and Catherine Wurtz appeal from the order of the trial court denying class action status and granting a motion to dismiss. Defendant has moved to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that the judgment was not final. Because the order granting the motion to dismiss did not cover all parties to the action, it is not a final appealable judgment. 1 We accordingly dismiss the appeal.

This action was originally filed as a class action brought by plaintiff Ralph individually and as a class representative. Defendant American Family Mutual Insurance Company [American Family] filed a motion to dismiss the petition on the grounds that 1) the cause of action did not constitute a class action, and 2) plaintiff, for various reasons which we need not consider here, had no individual cause of action. A hearing was held on this motion on August 2, 1990. On August 27, 1990, the trial court entered an order finding that the action could not be maintained as a class action and granted defendant's motion to dismiss the petition. On August 29, 1990, the trial court entered a second order granting plaintiff leave to file his First Amended Petition and to add plaintiff Catherine Wurtz as a party. The order continued:

Defendant refiles it [sic] Motion to Dismiss, previously filed, in response to plaintiffs' First Amended Petition.

Court's order of August 27, 1990 is hereby amended to read Defendant's Motion to Dismiss First Amended Petition is hereby granted. Said order to remain in full force and effect in all other respects.

Defendant's Motion to Dismiss was directed only to the class action and to the individual cause of action of plaintiff Ralph. It did not request dismissal of the individual action of plaintiff Wurtz. By granting the motion to dismiss, the trial court dismissed only the class action and the individual action of plaintiff Ralph. No disposition was made of the individual claim of plaintiff Wurtz. The judgment is, accordingly, not final. "A judgment is the final determination of the rights of the parties in the action, and where it does not dispose of all parties and all issues, it is generally not a final judgment for purposes of appeal." Maurer v. Clark, 727 S.W.2d 210, 211 (Mo.App.1987).

We have also considered whether the order denying class action status may be appealable as an exception to the general rule and conclude that it is not. Missouri Rule 52.08 governs class actions. No Missouri court has directly considered whether the denial of class certification is appealable. As Missouri Rule 52.08 is identical to Rule 23, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, we may use federal precedent. Defino v. Civic Center Corp., 780 S.W.2d 665, 668 (Mo.App.1989); In re Estate of Caldwell, 766 S.W.2d 464, 466 (Mo.App.1989).

The United States Supreme Court has held that a federal trial court's determination that an action may not be maintained as a class action pursuant to the federal rule is not a "final decision" under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 2 and therefore not appealable as a matter of right. Coopers & Lybrand v. Livesay, 437 U.S. 463, 98 S.Ct. 2454, 57 L.Ed.2d 351 (1978). The Court stated:

Federal appellate jurisdiction generally depends on the existence of a decision by the District Court that "ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment." Catlin v. United States, 324 U.S. 229, 233, 65 S.Ct. 631, 633, 89 L.Ed. 911 [ (1945) ]. An order refusing to certify, or decertifying, a class does not of its own force terminate the entire litigation because the plaintiff is free to proceed on his individual claim.

437 U.S. at 467, 98 S.Ct. at 2457, 57 L.Ed.2d at 537. The court found that such an order did not fall within the small class of decisions exempted from the final judgment rule because such an order 1) is subject to revision under Rule 23(c)(1), Fed.R.Civ.P., 2) involves considerations that are enmeshed in the factual and legal issues of the cause of action, and 3) is subject to effective review after final judgment. Id., 437 U.S. at 468-69, 98 S.Ct. at 2458, 57 L.Ed.2d at 358. In Deposit Guaranty Nat. Bank v. Roper, 445 U.S. 326, 336, 100 S.Ct. 1166, 1173, 63 L.Ed.2d 427, 438 (1980), the Court reiterated: "We view the denial of class certification as an example of a procedural ruling, collateral to the...

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8 cases
  • Millett v. Atlantic Richfield Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • October 23, 2000
    ...320 N.W.2d 729, 731 (Minn.1982) (holding denial of class certification not appealable as of right); Ralph v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 809 S.W.2d 173, 175 (Mo.Ct.App.1991) (holding denial of class certification interlocutory and not appealable) (but see State ex rel. Byrd v. Chadwick, 956 S......
  • State ex rel. Byrd v. Chadwick, WD54805
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • November 13, 1997
    ...interpreting the provisions of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 in determining the issues in this case. See, e.g., Ralph v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 809 S.W.2d 173, 174 6 In determining whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate under Rule 23(e), numerous courts have noted that a trial c......
  • Dale v. Daimlerchrysler Corp, WD 65288.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • June 30, 2006
    ...are relevant in interpreting Rule 52.08. Craft v. Philip Morris Companies, 190 S.W.3d 368, 376 (Mo.App. 2005); Ralph v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 809 S.W.2d 173, 174 (Mo.App.1991). Likewise, inasmuch as § 407.025 is essentially identical to Rule 23 and Rule 52.08 and class actions under § 4......
  • Ring v. Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer Dist.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • December 5, 2000
    ...23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; therefore, we look to federal precedent for guidance. Ralph v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 809 S.W.2d 173, 174 (Mo. App. 1991). The federal circuit courts have taken various approaches when confronted with unnamed individual class members who h......
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