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ROQUET v. ANDERSON

August 12, 2003

NANCY J. ROQUET AND CORETTA ROBINSON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ARTHUR ANDERSON LLP, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John W. Darrah, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs, Nancy J. Roquet ("Roquet") and Coretta Robinson ("Robinson"), brought a class action suit against Defendant, Arthur Anderson LLP ("Anderson"), alleging Defendant violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act ("WARN Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 2101-2109. Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Renewed Motion for Class Certification.

The underlying facts are fully set forth in this Court's previous dispositions addressing the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, and Plaintiffs' Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the Issue of Existence of Mass. Layoff Accordingly, they need not be repeated here.

Plaintiffs' proposed class is "all persons who (i) were employees of Arthur Anderson LLP on or about Appril 22, 2002, and before December 22, 2002; (ii) were at job sites at 33 West Monroe Street in Chicago, 225 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and St. Charles, Illinois; (iii) were terminated without at least 60 days' advance notice from their positions; and (iv) received less than 60 days' `job search'". [ Page 2]

To receive class certification, Plaintiffs must satisfy all four elements of Rule 23(a), which include: numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation. Fed, R. Civ. P. 23(a). Plaintiffs must also satisfy at least one of the three provisions under Rule 23(b).

The propriety of class certification is a separate issue than whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail on the merits of its claims. See Eisen v. Carlisle & Jacquelin, 417 U.S. 156, 177 (1974). However, "[t]he proposition that a district judge must accept all of the complaint's allegations when deciding whether to certify a class cannot be found in Rule 23 and has nothing to recommend it." Szabo v. Bridgeport Machines, Inc., 249 F.3d 672, 675 (7th Cir. 2001) (Szabo). Before certifying a class "a judge should make whatever factual and legal inquiries are necessary under Rule 23." Szabo, 249 F.3d at 676. For example, a district court would not be free to accept an allegation of 10,000 class members for purposes of numerosity in the face of a dispute on that point. See Szabo, 249 F.3d at 676. Accordingly, the Court does not determine the substantive strength or weakness of the allegations in the complaint but rather the merits of the allegations only as they bear on the suitability of a class action suit under Rule 23(a) and (b). See Rahim v. Sheahan, 2001 WL 1263493 at *10 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 19, 2001).

Numerosity

Rule 23(a)(1) requires that the class be so numerous that joinder of all the members is impracticable. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(1). Plaintiff need not demonstrate the exact number of class members so long as a conclusion is apparent from good-faith estimates (Peterson v. H&R Block Tax Servs., 174 F.R.D. 78, 81 (N.D. Ill. 1997)); and the court is entitled to make "common sense assumptions" in order to support a finding of numerosity (Grossman v. Waste Management, Inc., 100 F.R.D. 781, 785 (N.D. Ill. 1984)). [ Page 3]

Plaintiffs allege that, without receiving proper notice, 635 employees were terminated at the 33 West Monroe site; 146 employees were terminated at the 225 North Michigan Avenue site; and 369 employees were terminated from the St. Charles site. Defendant does not dispute the number of employees. The numerosity requirement is satisfied.

Commonality and Typicality

Commonality exists if the class members share common questions of law or fact. The requirement is usually satisfied when a common nucleus of operative facts unites a class. Rosario v. Livaditis, 963 F.2d 1013, 1018 (7th Cir. 1992). The presence of some factual variations among the class members does not defeat commonality so long as there is at least one question of law or tact common to the class. Rosario, F.2d at 1017.

The typicality requirement of Rule 23(a)(3) is closely related to the commonality requirement of Rule 23(a)(2). Ruiz v. Stewart Associates, Inc., 171 F.R.D. 238, 242 (N.D. Ill. 1997). A plaintiff's claim is typical if it arises from the same event or practice or course of action that gives rise to the claims of other class members and if his or her claims are based on the same legal theory, Rosario, 963 F.2d at 1018.

Here, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant violated the WARN Act by failing to pay employees 60 days' pay after the reduction in force. The alleged failure to pay certain wages arises from the same events and courses of action, and the claims are based on the same legal theory. Accordingly, commonality and typicality exist in the instant case. See Rosario, 963 F.2d at 1017-18; Ladegaard v. Hard Rock Concrete Cutters, Inc., 2000 WL 1774091 at *4-5 (N.D. Ill. Dec, 1, 2000) (certifying class action for ...


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