Richmond v. Dart Industries, Inc.

29 Cal. 3d 462, 174 Cal. Rptr. 515, 629 P.2d 23 (1981)

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Richmond v. Dart Industries, Inc.

California Supreme Court
29 Cal. 3d 462, 174 Cal. Rptr. 515, 629 P.2d 23 (1981)

Facts

Richmond, a recreational home-site owner and putative class representative, and other home-site owners (plaintiffs) filed a motion to certify a class of all home-site owners at the Tahoe Donner Subdivision (TDS) in a proposed class action against Dart Industries, Inc. (Dart) (defendant), the subdivision developer. The suit alleged that Dart failed to plan and provide adequate water sewage, recreational facilities, and maintenance and sought compensatory and punitive damages, rescission, declaratory relief, and a constructive trust to provide funds to maintain adequate facilities. Richmond and the others contended that a class action was appropriate because they had established an ascertainable class (record owners of TDS lot owners who had received copies of a final subdivision report and who had been affected by Dart’s failure to meet TDS’s needs) and a well-defined community of interest among the class members. A survey/flyer was distributed by Dart to poll the 2,600 site owners, and 325 responded indicating divergent views of how well a job Dart was doing and whether they were even aware of or in support of the lawsuit. TDS intervened and opposed the motion to certify the class, alleging that there was antagonism among the class members. There was also a contention that because the site owners were dependent on Dart for services and maintenance, the rescission relief prayed for created a conflict between the named plaintiffs and the absent class members by threatening the subdivision’s financial stability. The trial court denied the motion to certify the class, and Richmond appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bird, C.J.)

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