United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
SAMUEL J. SECRETI,
PTS OF AMERICA, LLC
TODD J. CAMPBELL, District Judge.
Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification (Docket No. 44). For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED.
Plaintiff seeks class certification in this civil rights action for a class of inmates who were transported by Defendant PTS of America. The proposed class definition in Plaintiff's Motion is different from the proposed class definition in Plaintiff's Memorandum.
Plaintiff's Motion asks the Court to certify a class of "all inmates, including, without limitation, adults and juveniles, males and females, pretrial detainees, sentenced prisoners, state mental hospital inmates, and immigration detainees who were transported by PTS OF AMERICA, LLC on behalf of local or state governments, or the federal government, since September 30, 2012 in full restraints including handcuffs, leg irons, and/or waist chains, for more than 48 continuous hours." Docket No. 44.
Plaintiff's Memorandum in support of his Motion defines the class as follows: "All inmates including, without limitation, adults and juveniles, males and females, pretrial detainees, sentenced prisoners, state mental hospital inmates, and immigration detainees who were transported by PTS OF AMERICA, LLC and/or its agents and employees on behalf of local or state governments, or the federal government, since September 30, 2012 restrained for more than 48 continuous hours." Docket No. 45.
Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that Defendant used excessive force in transporting Plaintiff and other similarly situated inmates in full restraints for more than 48 continuous hours. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant failed to provide private or adequate access to toilet facilities, failed to provide personal hygiene items, failed to provide proper food and drink, deprived him of access to prescribed medication and medical staff, and deprived him of adequate sleep and exercise while being transported. Plaintiff asserts violations of his Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Plaintiff asserts that this action satisfies the prerequisites for certification of a class under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23. Specifically, Plaintiff avers that the class is sufficiently numerous to make joinder impracticable, there are questions of law and fact common to the class, the claims and defenses of Plaintiff are typical of the class, and Plaintiff will fairly and adequately represent and protect the interests of the class. Plaintiff further contends that this action is maintainable as a class action because questions of law and fact common to the class predominate over any issues affecting individual class members and the proposed class action is superior to other methods for adjudicating the class members' claims.
Defendant, on the other hand, argues that whether any of the putative class members suffered a constitutional violation will depend on each individual prisoner's classification and circumstances and the specific conditions of each transport, all of which vary widely. Defendant urges that class certification should be denied because the few questions that are common to class members do not predominate those that must be resolved for each individual member.
A party seeking to maintain a class action must affirmatively demonstrate compliance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 23. Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S.Ct. 1426, 1432 (2013). The party must satisfy Rule 23 (a), which requires numerosity, commonality, typicality and adequacy of representation. Id. The party must also satisfy through evidentiary proof at least one of the provisions of Rule 23(b). Id. A district court has broad discretion to decide whether to certify a class. In re Whirlpool Corp. Front-Loading Washer Products Liability Litigation, 722 F.3d 838, 850 (6th Cir. 2013). The plaintiff has the burden to prove that the class certification prerequisites are met. Id. at 851.
Plaintiff contends that the proposed class is so numerous that joinder of all its members is impracticable. Defendant argues that the uncertainty and insufficiency of Plaintiff's class definition precludes satisfaction of the numerosity requirement.
Before the Court may certify a class pursuant to Rule 23, the class definition must be sufficiently definite so that it is administratively feasible for the court to determine whether a particular individual is a member of the proposed class. In re Skelaxin (Metaxalone) Antitrust Litigation, 299 F.R.D. 555, 567 (E.D. Tenn. 2014); Young v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 693 F.3d 532, 537-38 (6th Cir. 2012). If class members are impossible to identify without extensive and individualized fact-finding or "mini-trials, " then a class action is inappropriate. Skelaxin, 299 F.R.D. at 567. As noted in Skelaxin, the Sixth Circuit has rejected class definitions in which the only way to distinguish who is in the class and who is not is to engage in individualized fact-finding. Id. And, as the court ...