United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
LEA FAMILY PARTNERSHIP Ltd., a Florida Limited Partnership, on behalf of itself and others similarly situated Plaintiff,
CITY OF TEMPLE TERRACE, FLORIDA, and LEN VALENTI, in his official capacity as “Housing Compliance Officer” and individually, Defendant.
S. MOODY. JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE comes before the Court upon Plaintiff's Motion for
Class Certification (Dkt. 37), Defendant's Response in
Opposition (Dkt. 38), and Plaintiff's Reply (Dkt. 41).
The Court, having reviewed the motion, response, and being
otherwise advised in the premises, concludes that the Motion
should be denied.
root of Lea Family Partnership's
(“Plaintiff”) lawsuit is that the City of Temple
Terrace's Rental Housing Program (“the
Program”) is unconstitutional. The Program requires
that dwelling owners complete a permit application before
leasing their units. The application states that “[b]y
applying for a permit, the property owner consents to the
periodic inspections of the dwelling unit for violations of
the minimum housing code and other related codes at any
reasonable time. . . .” Temple Terrace, Fla., Housing
Code art. 5, div. 2, § 8-133(a) (2012). Failure to
complete the application precludes owners from leasing their
units. Thus, Plaintiff argues, the Program
“coerces” consent to inspections from owners who
wish to lease their dwellings.
owns and rents at least six dwellings in the City of Temple
Terrace (“the City”). (Dkt. 26, p.7). Plaintiff
alleges that at least three of its dwellings were inspected
by the City one or more times, and that Plaintiff did not
voluntarily and knowingly consent to any of the inspections.
(Dkt. 26, p.8). Plaintiff alleges that it
has paid a total of at least $3, 800 in application fees to
the City since the Program began. (Dkt. 37, p.7).
Plaintiff's Motion, Plaintiff claims that the City has
“coerced” consent from potentially thousands of
people by requiring all owners interested in leasing their
dwellings to submit the requisite application that provides
consent to inspect the dwellings. (Dkt. 37, p. 11). Plaintiff
moves to certify the following class under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 23:
“All owners of residential dwellings located within the
City of Temple Terrace: (i) whose dwelling was subject to the
City's Rental Housing Ordinance Program; (ii) who
submitted an initial application for the City's Rental
Housing Ordinance Program at any time during the Class Period
for such dwelling; (iii) who paid an initial fee to the City
of Temple Terrace with their Rental Housing Ordinance Program
application; and, (iv) whose dwelling was unoccupied at the
time of the initial inspection performed by the City.”
(Dkt. 23, p. 7-8).
define its class, Plaintiff relies on records from the
City's computer software programs used to record
information associated with the Program: ZOLL and SunGard
NaviLine. See (Dkt. 37, p. 5). These programs record
information such as unit owners and addresses, the amount
paid for a permit application, whether an inspection has
taken place, and other information. See (Dkt. 37, p.
5; Dkt. 37-3, p. 65-73).
STANDARDS FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION
district court is vested with broad discretion in determining
whether to certify a class. Washington v. Brown &
Williamson Tobacco Corp., 959 F.2d 1566, 1569 (11th Cir.
1992). For a district court to certify a class action, the
party seeking to maintain the class action must affirmatively
demonstrate its compliance with Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 23. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564
U.S. 338, 345-46 (2011). As a threshold issue, Plaintiff must
demonstrate that the proposed class is “adequately
defined and clearly ascertainable.” Little v.
T-Mobile USA, Inc., 691 F.3d 1302, 1304 (11th Cir.
2012). Assuming the class is ascertainable, Plaintiff must
then prove Rule 23(a)'s prerequisites to class
certification: (1) the class must be “so numerous that
joinder of all members is impracticable”
(“numerosity”); (2) there must be
“questions of fact or law common to the class”
(“commonality”); (3) “the claims or
defenses of the representative parties must be typical of the
claims or defenses of the class”
(“typicality”); and (4) the named representative
must “fairly and adequately protect the interests of
the class” (“adequacy of representation”).
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a).
meeting the requirements of Rule 23(a), the party must
satisfy through evidentiary proof at least one of the
provisions of Rule 23(b). See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b).
Therefore, courts may have to “probe behind the
pleadings before coming to rest on the certification
question.” Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 569 U.S.
27, 33 (2013) (citing to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23). Only after a
“rigorous analysis” and a determination that the
movant has satisfied Rule 23's prerequisites may the
court properly certify the class. Id. Accordingly,
the court's analysis will frequently “overlap with
the merits of the plaintiff's underlying claim [because]
class determination generally involves considerations that
are enmeshed in the factual and the legal issues comprising
the plaintiff's cause of action.” Id.
Court's analysis below discusses ascertainability and
numerosity, the two elements of Rule 23 that Plaintiff cannot