This paper is a commentary and analysis of the Texas Supreme Court decision in Compaq Computer Corp. v. Lapray, a class action dealing with alleged defective floppy disk controllers. The class consisted of approximately 1.8 million computer purchasers of 37 different Compaq models. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s certification of a Texas (b)(2) declaratory judgment action and a (b)(3) damage class, even though the trial court had deferred making any choice of law decision concerning what law would apply to the claims in this nationwide action. Relying extensively on federal class action jurisprudence, the Texas Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court had abused its discretion in certifying a (b)(3) class because both the trial (and appellate) court failed to conduct a proper choice-of-law analysis. Consequently, the class could not satisfy the (b)(3) predominance requirement. Conducting its own choice of law analysis de novo, the Texas Supreme Court determined that the differences in state law relating to an express warranty claim defeated class certification. In addition, the Texas Supreme Court held that in certifying the (b)(2) class, the trial court had failed to analyze the cohesiveness of the proposed class rigorously, and did not consider notice and opt-out rights. Consequently, the Court reversed the (b)(2) certification. This article surveys the Texas Supreme Court’s analysis of the class certification issues in this massive nationwide class action, and discusses whether the decision will gain traction as a precedential case in Texas.
Linda S. Mullenix, Complex Litigation: The Texas Touchdown, National Law Journal, May 24, 2004, at 13.