On February 19, 2014, the Supreme Court of Ohio, in a 4-3 ruling, accepted the discretionary appeal in Felix v. Ganley Chevrolet, Inc. on two propositions of law: 1) a class action cannot be maintained on behalf of a putative class that includes individuals who did not sustain actual harm or damage as a result of the challenged conduct, which is a required part of the rigorous analysis under Ohio R. Civ. P. 23; and 2) in a class action brought under the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, R.C. 1345.09(B) requires the consumers to have sustained actual damages as a result of the challenged conduct.
In Ganley, the trial court certified a class that included any person who purchased a car from a group of auto dealerships if their contract included an arbitration clause that the court previously found invalid. The trial court then awarded each class member $200 in “discretionary damages,” even though the legislature explicitly limited class actions to actual damages, and it included in the class those who never had a dispute with the dealer. The Eighth District affirmed the trial court.