Garza v. Swift Transp. Co. – 7/12/2016

July 18, 2016

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that choice-of-law issues did not present manageability concerns compelling decertification in a class-action lawsuit.

Class-action plaintiffs filed claims for breach of contract and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing against their employer.  After the trial court granted the employer’s summary judgment motion as to the breach of contract claims, the trial court decertified the class, explaining that (i) the employer’s due-process right to defend against each plaintiff’s good faith claims and (ii) choice-of-law concerns made the class unmanageable.  Members of the decertified class sought special action review.

The Court of Appeals reversed.  As to the due-process concerns, decertification was inappropriate because the employer did not present any evidence that suggested the employer would have separate defenses against each class member.  As to the choice-of-law concerns, the Court held that although the class members worked in several states with laws that conflicted with Arizona’s law regarding the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, Arizona law applies because the employer’s allegedly tortious conduct occurred exclusively in Arizona. 

Presiding Judge Johnsen authored the opinion; Judges Orozco and Jones concurred.