Just Film, Inc. v. Buono

Two nationwide classes were properly certified in a RICO suit alleging that defendants fraudulently collected reimbursement for miscalculated taxes; the plaintiff’s claim was typical as she was harmed by the same scheme as class members, and she proposed adequate methods for proving damages on a classwide basis.  This decision affirms the district court’s certification of two nationwide classes of merchants alleging that the defendants violated RICO, the UCL and FCRA as well as breached the merchants’ leases of point-of-sale credit card machinery through two schemes, one miscalculating supposedly past due equipment lease taxes, using incorrect tax bases and wrong tax years, and the other calculating personal property taxes based on the revenue stream generated by the equipment rather than its much lower acquisition cost.  To further these schemes, defendants sent former lessees letters demanding payment of the taxes and also arranged automatic ACH deductions from the merchants’ bank accounts to pay the claimed tax liabilities.  Though the named representative was able to fend off any automatic deduction and did not pay the claimed tax liability, she incurred costs in resisting defendants’ attempts to collect the taxes and so was a typical representative.  She was harmed by the same scheme as other class members even if in a different way.  Plaintiff proposed adequate methods for proving damages on a class-wide basis even if some class members who suffered unique sorts of damage would have to prove theirs individually.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Gould, J.); February 7, 2017; 2017 WL 510452

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