Denial of nationwide and Pennsylvania-wide class certification affirmed.
Our attorneys prevailed on an appeal to the Third Circuit, which affirmed the district court’s rejection of the plaintiffs’ request for class certification in a product liability and warranty action. The named plaintiffs are several property owners and communities of common ownership who allege they have yellow-jacketed, corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) transporting natural gas through their structures. The flexible, yellow CSST is the modern heir to the black iron pipe formerly universal in the building industry. The flexible CSST offers advantages, including ease of installation, but the plaintiffs asserted there are latent product defects that risk failure in the event an electrical surge makes its way to the tubing, either from an in-house event or nearby lightning strike. The district court denied the plaintiffs’ request for nationwide and Pennsylvania-wide class certification of their disparate claims because of a failure of record proof on the elements of ascertainability of a sufficiently numerous class, predominance of typical and common claims, and an inability to demonstrate proof of liability and damages issues on a class-wide basis. The Third Circuit granted the plaintiffs’ request for interlocutory review of the class certification decision, but nevertheless affirmed the district court’s ruling on largely the same bases. Without passing on the merits of the product defect claims, the Third Circuit recognized that there was no basis to grant class-wide treatment given the differences in everything from notification to putative class members, liability and damages proofs, and the law governing claims. The denial of class certification was affirmed, and the case will proceed on an individual basis only.