On Monday, a California federal judge denied class certification for a group of storage unit renters whose units were foreclosed on and items were auctioned off, claiming that each renter’s contract, damages, and reason for having their unit seized were too different to certify a class.
The parties would have to explore the circumstances of each tenant.
The plaintiffs had argued that class certification should be granted because they received similar foreclosure notices in the same manner from Extra Space Storage Inc.; however, U.S. District Judge William Alsup found that the differences between each case trumped the potential class’ similarities.
“The parties would have to explore the circumstances of each tenant to determine whether the tenant intended to abandon his or her property,” Judge Alsup wrote in his order. The judge ruled that while a tenant’s failure to take action after receiving multiple warnings suggests abandonment, this suggestion “is not conclusive.”
In opposition to the class certification, Extra Space argued that each form of abandonment differed, as some tenants fell behind on rent while others completely stopped all communication with the company. The storage unit also added that each tenant alleged different damages, which would make class certification impossible.
Even if the class was granted certification for liability alone, they would still have to create a method to determine the damages each class member would receive, the judge noted.
The plaintiff who filed the motion for class certification alleged that Extra Space sent her notices demanding payment for an incorrect amount of rent and then seized her storage unit with nearly $5,000 worth of goods, which were later auctioned off. The suit was originally filed by a tenant who also alleged Extra Space auctioned off the contents of her unit without properly informing her that her rent was overdue. Her case was later settled for an undisclosed amount.