ORLANDO — A federal judge has denied a motion for class certification in a dispute between an Orlando man and a property management company, saying that the plaintiff failed to identify a relevant common question.
In making the ruling, Judge Gregory A. Presnell of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida said the potential plaintiffs neither shared a common malady nor a common causation.
In his complaint, plaintiff Donell Stallworth alleged that a building he lives in, which is managed by defendant Village Lakes Apartments, is infested with mold. Stallworth alleges that beginning in August 2013, a leaky air conditioner led to the growth of black mold throughout his apartment. After he reported the problem, the management of the complex allegedly failed to remedy the mold problem. Beginning in January 2014, Stallworth alleges he began to experience headaches and suffer from respiratory issues.
Stallworth alleges he became aware of numerous other Village Lakes residents who complained of mold problems in their apartments. On March 31, 2016, he filed suit and sought class action on the grounds of breach of contract and breach of the implied warranty of habitability.
Presnell ruled that the plaintiff was unable to show an actual method to identify potential class members or meet any of the other requirements of federal rules of procedure regarding class action certification. Because he had not proven there were other individuals affected and he has not said whether individuals were claiming a tort or injury related to his claim of mold, the judge ruled that there was no common question for the court to answer necessitating a class status.
“Even assuming that other class members exist and could be identified, Stallworth has failed to demonstrate the existence of any common questions of law or fact at issue shared by class member," Presnell wrote in his ruling. “By failing to identify a relevant common question that this litigation could resolve, Stallworth has also necessarily failed to demonstrate that the common question(s) in this litigation predominate over individualized questions that would need to be answered to resolve each class members’ claims.”
Presnell denied the motion for class certification and the matter rests with the plaintiff to refile.