Lee v. Carter-Reed, 203 N.J. 496 (2010).

Plaintiff, Melissa Lee, a New Jersey resident, purchased three bottles of a dietary supplement pill called Relacore, manufactured and distributed by defendant Carter-Reed. Carter Reed claimed Relacore would reduce weight, lessen anxiety, and improve consumers’ moods. Lee filed a class action lawsuit against Carter Reed after she gained weight instead of losing it despite taking Relacore as the packaging directed.

The trial court denied Lee’s class-certification motion on the ground that plaintiffs failed the predominance requirement, which tests whether the proposed class is sufficiently cohesive to warrant adjudication by representation. Lee appealed, and NJCJI joined with NJBIA in a brief to the appellate court arguing the lower court was right to strictly enforce the predominance requirement because it ensures all the plaintiffs’ complaints are addressed appropriately while the defendant’s right to due-process is preserved.

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s denial of class certification, finding that individual issues of fact and law predominated over those that were common to the class members. Lee again appealed, and the Supreme Court reversed both lower courts and remanded the case for further processing, holding that not certifying the class was an abuse of discretion. The court explained that the pleadings are to be viewed in a light favorable to the plaintiff when making a certification decision, and doing so in this case negates the factual differences between plaintiffs because all were sold “a passel of lies,” and a class action is the most efficient way to address all the claims.