The Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles recently certified a class of all persons that have paid the City of Los Angeles Gas Users Tax (“GUT”) imposed by section 21.1.5 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code on certain amounts charged by Southern California Gas Company (“SoCalGas”) for customer service-related charges, such as reading meters, preparing bills, processing payments and establishing service. The case was brought against the City of LA (Case No. BC591331). Plaintiffs assert that the GUT should be applied to charges made for the actual gas, and not for customer service-related charges.
In the May 13th order, Judge Daniel J. Buckley concluded that “the questions of law or fact common to the class are substantially similar and predominate over the questions affecting the individual members.” Judge Buckley’s class certification decision cited the declaration of OnPoint expert Dr. Gareth Macartney, who examined whether the record evidence suggested that the billing system of SoCalGas was sufficient to identify Class members and, ultimately, compute damages for that Class in a formulaic manner. Judge Buckley described how Dr. Macartney “surmise[d] that the data is stored in a common data format well suited to statistical software used by economists.” Judge Buckley described how Plaintiffs trial plan included “Dr. Gareth Macartney, who will testify to his methodology for determining individual damages from SoCalGas’s databases using statistical and other software.” The Court concluded that Plaintiffs had proposed a manageable trial plan and that Defendant’s arguments to the contrary were unavailing.
To read the order, click here.
To read more about Dr. Macartney, click here.