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JOHN L. HAYES v. MOTORISTS MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY (12/28/87)

filed: December 28, 1987.

JOHN L. HAYES, III, NANCY L. HAYES AND JOHN L. HAYES, IV, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, APPELLANTS,
v.
MOTORISTS MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLEE



Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division of Allegheny County, No. GD 85-13147.

COUNSEL

Michael P. Malakoff, Pittsburgh, for appellants.

David R. Johnson, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Wieand, Kelly and Popovich, JJ.

Author: Wieand

[ 370 Pa. Super. Page 603]

This is an appeal from an order denying class certification and directing that plaintiffs' action proceed as an individual action via compulsory arbitration. The trial court held that plaintiffs had failed to satisfy the adequacy of representation requirement*fn1 and that their action had failed to satisfy the commonality, typicality, and predominance requisites for class certification.*fn2 Plaintiffs appealed. We conclude that the trial court did not err or abuse its discretion by determining that the action failed to meet the commonality,

[ 370 Pa. Super. Page 604]

    typicality, and predominance requirements for class certification. Therefore, we affirm.

John Hayes, IV, (John) was injured in an automobile accident on June 16, 1984. He was insured under a policy of automobile insurance which had been purchased by John Hayes, III (Jack) and Nancy L. Hayes from Motorists Mutual Insurance Co. (Motorists). Because the policy contained a coordination of benefits clause, Motorists paid only that portion of John's medical bills which was not paid by the Hayes's major medical insurance carrier. This was approximately twenty (20%) percent of John's total medical bills.

The Hayeses filed a class action suit against Motorists to recover the balance of John's medical bills. By the averments of the complaint, the Hayeses purported also to represent:

All of Defendant Motorists' insureds who sustained personal injuries which would have been covered by Defendant's no-fault policies but for the designation on the declarations page under the Personal Injury Protection section which stated 'Medical Expenses' which Defendant interpreted to provide that Coordination of Benefits was applicable. The class encompasses all such insured claimants whose allowable expenses arose, whose benefits were denied, or whose last basic loss benefits were paid on or after July 30, 1983.

A motion for summary judgment by Motorists, based on the language of the policy, was denied by the trial court. A hearing on the Hayes's request for class certification was thereafter held on May 29, 1986. This request was denied on July 11, 1986.

The decision of a trial court "concerning class certification is a mixed finding of law and fact entitled to 'appropriate deference' upon appeal." Janicik v. Prudential Insurance Co. of America, 305 Pa. Super. 120, 127, 451 A.2d 451, 454 (1982) (quoting with approval from Bell v. Beneficial Consumer Discount Co., 465 Pa. 225, 235, 348 A.2d 734, 739 (1975), on remand, 241 Pa. Super. 192, 360

[ 370 Pa. Super. Page 605]

A.2d 681 (1976)). "'Trial courts are vested with broad discretion in determining definition of the class as based on commonality of the issues and the propriety of maintaining the action on behalf of the class.'" Janicik v. Prudential Insurance Co. of America, supra, quoting Klemow v. Time, Inc., 466 Pa. 189, 197, 352 A.2d 12, 16 (1975). Therefore, we may not disturb the trial court's order denying class certification "unless the court neglected to consider the requirements of the rules [of civil procedure] or abused its discretion in applying them." D'Amelio v. Blue Cross of Lehigh Valley, 347 Pa. Super. 441, 448, 500 A.2d 1137, 1141 (1985).

Pa.R.C.P. 1702 sets forth the prerequisites which must be met in order to maintain a class action as follows:

One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all ...


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