DTD Enterprises, Inc. v. Wells ( 2009 )


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  •                   Cite as: 558 U. S. ____ (2009)            1
    
                       Statement of KENNEDY, J.
    
    SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
    DTD ENTERPRISES, INC., AKA TOGETHER, AKA TO- 
    
      GETHER-CLARK, AKA TOGETHER DATING SER- 
    
      VICE, ET AL. v. JANICE H. WELLS, ON BEHALF OF
    
          HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED
    
    
      ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPERIOR 
    
           COURT OF NEW JERSEY, MIDDLESEX COUNTY
    
                 No. 08–1407. Decided October 13, 2009
    
       The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.
       Statement of JUSTICE KENNEDY, with whom THE CHIEF
    JUSTICE and JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR join, respecting the
    denial of the petition for writ of certiorari.
       This case began with a contract action brought by DTD
    Enterprises, Inc. (hereinafter petitioner), a commercial
    dating-referral service, against respondent, one of peti
    tioner’s customers. The suit alleged that respondent
    refused to make payments due under a contract. Respon
    dent answered by bringing a class action against peti
    tioner. The trial court certified the class and ordered
    petitioner to bear all the costs of class notification, on the
    sole ground (or so it appears) that petitioner could afford
    to pay and respondent could not.
       To the extent that New Jersey law allows a trial court to
    impose the onerous costs of class notification on a defen
    dant simply because of the relative wealth of the defen
    dant and without any consideration of the underlying
    merits of the suit, a serious due process question is raised.
    Where a court has concluded that a plaintiff lacks the
    means to pay for class certification, the defendant has
    little hope of recovering its expenditures later if the suit
    proves meritless; therefore, the court’s order requiring the
    defendant to pay for the notification “finally destroy[s] a
    property interest.” Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., 
    455 U.S. 422
    , 433-34 (1982). The Due Process Clause requires
    2             DTD ENTERPRISES, INC. v. WELLS
    
                       Statement of KENNEDY, J.
    
    a “ ‘hearing appropriate to the nature of the case.’ ” Boddie
    v. Connecticut, 
    401 U.S. 371
    , 378 (1971). And there is
    considerable force to the argument that a hearing in which
    the trial court does not consider the underlying merits of
    the class-action suit is not consistent with due process
    because it is not sufficient, or appropriate, to protect the
    property interest at stake.
       I nonetheless agree with the Court’s denial of certiorari,
    for two reasons. First, the petition is interlocutory; the
    state appellate courts denied petitioner leave to appeal the
    trial court’s action. Second, petitioner has filed for bank
    ruptcy, and an automatic bankruptcy stay has issued
    pursuant to 
    11 U.S. C
    . §362. Respondents contend that
    the present action comes within the scope of the automatic
    stay. If we were to grant the petition we would be re
    quired to construe New Jersey law without the aid of a
    reasoned state appellate court decision and to confront a
    procedural obstacle unrelated to the question presented.
    Under these circumstances, it is best to deny the peti
    tion. It seems advisable, however, to note that the peti
    tion for certiorari does implicate issues of constitutional
    significance.
    

Document Info

DocketNumber: 08-1407

Filed Date: 10/13/2009

Precedential Status: Relating-to orders

Modified Date: 8/5/2016