Noel v. Thrifty Payless

In this case, the plaintiff claims that a children’s pool was falsely advertised as being larger that it was and sought certification of a class of “all persons who purchased the Ready Set Pool at a Rite Aid store located in California within the four years preceding the date of the filing of this action.” A California court of appeal held that certification should have been denied because the class was not “ascertainable,” in that it failed to satisfy a requirement that the plaintiff establish a means of identifying individual class members sufficiently to ensure personal notice of the pendency of the action. The question before the California Supreme Court is whether such as ascertainability requirement exists under class-action California law. Public Citizen submitted an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff to explain that due process is satisfied when notice is “reasonably calculated” to reach the defined class and that the court of appeal’s approach would undermine consumer class actions without advancing any legitimate countervailing interest.

In an opinion issued on July 29, 2019, the California Supreme Court agreed. The court held that a class definition articulates an ascertainable class when it defines the class “in terms of objective characteristics and common transactional facts” that make “the  ultimate identification of class members possible when that identification becomes necessary.”  The court rejected the court of appeals’ holding that the “ascertainability requirement” incorporates an additional evidentiary burden.