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Williams-Ellis v. MT Hair Salons and Day Spas

March 27, 2008

KIMBERLY WILLIAMS-ELLIS, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MT HAIR SALONS AND DAY SPAS, AND ELIZABETH ARDEN SPAS, LLC, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Plaintiff Kimberly Williams-Ellis ("Ellis")' first amended motion for class certification pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 against Defendant Mario Tricoci Hair Salons and Day Spas, Inc. ("MT") and Defendant Elizabeth Arden Spas, LLC ("EA Spas") (collectively, "Defendants"). For the following reasons, Ellis' motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

On February 7, 2008, we denied class certification of Ellis' proposed class definition*fn1 and gave her leave to file an amended class definition. Our denial of Ellis' certification motion was based on the fact we would be required to make individual, fact-specific inquiries regarding Defendants' ultimate liability in order to identify potential class members under the proposed definition. Ellis subsequently filed the instant motion requesting that we certify one of the following four definitions pursuant to Rule 23:

Definition # 1. All individuals that were charged the 'Ethnic Woman's Haircut' charge, SKU #2122 or other 'ethnic' SKUs at Mario Tricoci or the equivalent at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas.

Definition # 2. All African-American or other racial minorities that were charged the 'Ethnic Woman's Haircut' charge, SKU #2122 or other 'ethnic' SKUs at Mario Tricoci or the equivalent at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas.

Definition # 3. All individuals that were charged the 'Ethnic Woman's Haircut' charge, SKU #2122 or other 'ethnic' SKUs at Mario Tricoci or the equivalent at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas for haircuts with Tricoci stylists who either listed higher charges for SKU #2122 or performed 'solely' ethnic haircuts.

Definition # 4. All African-American or other racial minorities that were charged the 'Ethnic Woman's Haircut' charge, SKU #2122 or other 'ethnic' SKUs at Mario Tricoci or the equivalent at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas Tricoci for haircuts with Tricoci stylists who either listed higher charges for SKU #2122 or performed 'solely' ethnic haircuts.

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 governs class actions brought in the federal courts. However, before conducting an analysis of Rule 23, we "must decide whether (1) the proposed class definitions are sufficiently defined so as to be identifiable, and whether (2) the named plaintiffs fall within the class definition." See Oshana v. CocaCola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 515 (7th Cir. 2006). If the proposed class definition requires the court "to conduct individual inquiries to determine whether each potential class member falls within the class" then a Rule 23 analysis is not required and the definition should be denied. See Kenro, Inc. v. Fax Daily, Inc., 962 F.Supp. 1162, 63 (S.D. Ind. 1997). Alternatively, if a class is defined so that "'its members can be ascertained by reference to objective criteria,'" then it warrants consideration under Rule 23. Gomez v. Ill. State Bd. of Educ., 117 F.R.D. 394, 397 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 26, 1987). This is because the class definition must be sufficiently precise to make it "administratively feasible for the Court to determine whether a particular individual is a member of the proposed class." Id.

After a party proves that their proposed class is sufficiently defined so as to be identifiable, they must then show that their definition satisfies all four prerequisites listed under Rule 23(a):

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;

(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;

(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and

(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the ...


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