Appeal Of Class Certification Gets Abuse-Of-Discretion Review

Poolman of Wisconsin services and sells swimming pools, hot tubs, and fireplaces. Through a third-party, the company faxed an unsolicited advertisement to UESCO Industries, a company that manufactures cranes. Angered at Poolman‘s advertising method, UESCO sued Poolman under a federal law that prohibits unsolicited fax advertisements.UESCO asked for class action certification, claiming it could adequately represent all parties that received Poolman’s fax advertisement.

An Illinois trial court granted UESCO’s request for class action status. Poolman appealed.

UESCO and Poolman argued for opposite appellate standards of review. Poolman asserted the appellate court should review the matter de novo (no discretion given to the trial court) “because the issues presented on appeal are ‘purely legal.’” UESCO argued that the trial court should be reversed only if it abused its discretion. The First District Illinois Appellate Court sided with UESCO, and ruled that the trial court gets discretion with one condition.

Here is how the appellate court described it. “Based on our review of the cases cited by defendant and pertinent Illinois authority, our determination here involves whether the circuit [trial] court abused its discretion or applied impermissible legal criteria.”

UESCO won the standard-of-review battle but lost the war. In the end, the appellate court reversed the ruling that allowed class certification. Read the whole opinion, UESCO Industries v. Poolman of Wisconsin, 2013 IL App (1st) 112566 (6/17/13), by clicking here.