Another helpful narrow reading of Comcast on “commonality of damages”

This week, the Seventh Circuit reversed the denial of class certification in Zanetti v. IKO Mfg., a case about roof tiles marketed with the allegedly false claim that they met a certain industry standard.

The district court denied class certification — in the words of the Seventh Circuit — "under a mistaken belief that 'commonality of damages' is legally indispensible." As Judge Easterbrook observed for the court of appeals, "If this is right, then class actions about consumers products are impossible." Fortunately, it is not right. As the Seventh Circuit explained, the Supreme Court's decision on Comcast on which the district court relied (and whose interpretation in the courts of appeals we have previous covered here, here, and here), did not support the district court's ruling; rather, the Seventh Circuit reiterated, Comcast stands only for the proposition that the theory of liability must match the theory of damages — a standard easily met here.

So, score another one for the narrow, reasonable reading of Comcast. The tally stands at four circuits for that view (the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth), none against. The issue is now pending before the Second Circuit as well.

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