Grillasca v. Hess Corp., ___ F.Supp.3d ____,2007 WL 2121726 (M.D.Fla., Jul 24, 2007)

District courts seem to be THE happening hotspot these days. But the bouncer guarding the door ain’t your average no-neck, it’s Judge Kovachevich of the Middle District of Florida. In her recent order, she denies Plaintiffs’ motion to certify the class. No proof of CAFA requirements, no entry.

The plaintiffs, Denise Grillasca and Kelly Mayzik, filed a class action suit against Hess Corporation, alleging unfair trade practices. Plaintiffs were customers who visited Hess gas stations and paid with a debit/bank card. Their respective purchases were only $10 and $26.35 but both found a pre-authorized amount of $75.00 requested by Hess and a subsequent hold on their account for that amount on their bank statements. Furthermore, due to the hold, Mayzik was also charged subsequent overdraft fees. The plaintiffs assert that the Hess pre-authorization request exceeds their actual purchase price, and is, therefore, unlawful. Both plaintiffs seek financial damages and compensation for emotional distress and inconvenience (No pun intended…but get it..inconvenience from a convenience store!).

To bring a class action, a class must exist and it must meet four requirements: (1) numerosity of parties; (2) common issues of law and fact; (3) typicality of claims and defense of class representatives; and (4) adequacy of representation. The proposed class must also meet the CAFA jurisdictional requirement that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million.

Like K-Fed’s rapping skills, the plaintiffs fall short. The court held that the plaintiffs failed to provide a reasonable basis for a total damages figure or the number of class members. Thus, class certification was denied. Too bad, plaintiffs. The Lesson learned is next time you want to bring a class action under CAFA, bring some dough (at least $ 5 million) and an entourage!