Court denies class action in Romero v. Utah Highway Patrol

SALT LAKE CITY — The 2nd District Court for the State of Utah issued a decision Thursday in Romero v. Utah Highway Patrol, denying the motion of three proposed class plaintiffs to certify the case they filed against former UHP Trooper Lisa Steed as a class action. If the court had allowed a class action against the former trooper, potentially hundreds of people whom Steed arrested for DUI could have joined the case against her.

The court agreed with UHP and Steed that each arrest would have to be viewed in light of all the facts and circumstances surrounding that arrest, which would make it impracticable to allow plaintiffs to proceed as a class.

A press release issued Thursday by the Utah Attorney General’s Office issued said:

The proposed Class Members’ traffic stops occurred over a period of several years, at various locations, at different times of the day, and for differing reasons. These differences must be considered when determining whether reasonable suspicion and probable cause existed under the totality of circumstances of each traffic stop.  The Court finds that this type of analysis is not appropriate for class certification, as individual issues will predominate in the course of the litigation.

Assistant Attorney General Meb Anderson, who represents Steed, said this was a very important decision.

“We believed all along that the law supported our position that a class cannot be certified when each arrest has to be examined separately,” Anderson said, as quoted in the press release. “After reviewing the hundreds of pages of argument, and after hearing argument for over an hour, the Court agreed with us.”

Anderson said Steed was happy with the decision. He added Steed has maintained that her arrests were lawful, and she is ready to defend her actions in the individual cases that remain.

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