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Byorth v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Montana

December 28, 2015

PETER BYORTH and ANN McKEAN, on behalf of themselves and all those similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
USAA CASUALTY INS. CO. and JOHN DOES I-X Defendants,

          ORDER CERTIFYING CLASS UNDER MONTANA RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 23(A)

          HON. GREGORY R. TODD, DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on a Motion to Certify Class filed on November 19, 2015. On November 25, 2015 Defendant filed its Motion to Strike Class Allegations from the Complaint. Having read the briefs, this Court deems the matter submitted.

         I

         BACKGROUND

         On September 25, 2011 Peter Byorth (Byorth) was injured when he was struck i by a motor vehicle while riding his bicycle. At the time of his injury Byorth was insured by United Services Automobile Association (USAA) Casualty Insurance Company. Byorth's policy provided medical payment coverage of $10, 000. Byorth submitted claims totaling $85, 000 which USAA in turn submitted to Auto Injury Solutions (AIS) for file review. AIS determined that Byorth's claims were for procedures that wereinot medically necessary and USAA denied his claims based on coding errors.

         On February 10, 2014 Ann McKean, (McKean) was injured in a motor vehicle accident. At the time of her injury McKean was insured by a USAA policy that also provided for medical payment coverage of $10, 000. McKean submitted claims for medical payment in excess of $10, 000 which USAA in turn submitted to AIS for a file review. AIS determined that McKean's claims were for procedures that were not medically necessary and USAA denied her claims based on coding errors.

         On April 24, 2015 Byorth and McKean filed suit on behalf of themselves and all those similarly situated alleging that USAA violated Montana law with respect to its claims handling practices. On June 11, 2015 USAA filed its notice of removal to Federal District Court. On September 30, 2015 the Federal District Court issued its remand order citing a lack of diversity jurisdiction due to USAA's failure to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Trial courts are afforded the broadest discretion when reviewing a decision on class certification because the trial court is in the best position to consider the most fair and efficient procedure for conducting any given litigation. Jacobsen v. Allstate, 2013 MT 244, ¶ 25, 371 Mont 393, 402, 310 P.3d 452, 459., DISCUSSION

         Under Montana Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) a class action may be certified if the following four criteria are met:

(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and,,
(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

'Id. A class action must be certified at "an early practicable time after a person ' sues or is sued as a class representative, the court must determine by order whether to certify the action as a class action." Mont, R. Civ. P. 23(c)(1)(A). The order certifying the class must "define the class and the class claims, issues, or, defenses, and must appoint ...


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