By Jessica Gladney
In Thomas v. Mobil Oil Corp., No. 2008-0541 (La. App. 4 Cir. 3/31/09), the Fourth Circuit affirmed the trial court’s denial of class certification against the defendants, Exxon Mobil Corporation and Chalmette Refining, L.L.C. The proposed class consisted of approximately 7,000 claimants from Algiers and St. Bernard, and the plaintiffs alleged personal injury and property damages from emissions of petrochemical facilities operated by the defendants over a fourteen-year period. The claims forms submitted did not specify dates that claimants allegedly suffered from any of the alleged damages, and the trial court concluded that the claims among the purported class members varied so greatly that the putative class representatives could not adequately represent the class. The Fourth Circuit recognized that the Louisiana Supreme Court’s holding in Ford v. Murphy Oil, U.S.A., Inc., 1996-2913 (La. 9/9/97), 703 So. 2d 542 was controlling and affirmed the trial court’s holding denying class certification. The court noted that the wide variances in geographic location, claimed exposure, and types and degree of damages claimed by the putative class members demonstrated that the claims were too individualized and the certification of the class should therefore be denied.