A common question new students of Rule 23(b)(2) ask is why it exists at all. After all, if an injunction truly offers indivisible relief, why would one seek to bring it on behalf of a class? Wouldn’t the individual pursuing the injunction get relief for the class if she wins just by bringing the lawsuit in the first place?

There is an answer to this question, and it is one that has its roots in the desegregation era.  When blacks seeking desegregation orders sued for injunctions, they did so on behalf of a class to avoid the problem of … Continue Reading

 In the wake of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, plaintiffs and trial courts are still trying to determine exactly how to apply the clarified commonality standard of Rule 23(a)(2), and the standard for injunctive relief under Rule 23(b)(2). The good news for defendants, as demonstrated in the new case M.D. v. Perry, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 6061 (5th Cir. Mar. 23, 2012), the appellate courts are largely following the Supreme Court’s lead in Dukes. (My apologies: Google Scholar doesn’t have the opinion yet, and the Fifth Circuit website appears to be having difficulties.)

The plaintiffs challenged the state’s … Continue Reading

To get lawsuits into court and past preliminary motions, plaintiffs often have to argue some pretty stupid things. They have to argue that they did not know coffee is hot or that they trusted Google Maps directions over their own eyes. Sometimes, to get a class action that far, plaintiffs’ lawyers have to argue that entire populations that dumb, such as when they argue that people did not know that Nutella is fattening. What’s a defense lawyer to do in situations like this?

The Third Circuit has offered some help. The lawsuit, McNair v. Synapse Group, Inc. … Continue Reading

The last few weeks have been exceptionally busy for appellate decisions involving class actions. In addition to Judge Easterbrook’s In re Aqua Dots opinion, the Sixth Circuit’s Pipefitters opinion, the Second Circuit’s Literary Works opinion, and the Ninth Circuit’s reversal of the Bluetooth settlement, the Third Circuit has offered up a pair of opinions involving predominance and common evidence. In one, Behrend v. Comcast Corp., a panel appeared to limit the reach of In re Hydrogen Peroxide on expert evidence, affirming certification of an antitrust case again the cable provider in part because it held that a DaubertContinue Reading

When faced with a complex factual issue, where it would be difficult to certify under Rule 23(b)(3) (because individual issues of causation or liability clearly predominate over common issues), plaintiffs will sometimes seek injunctive relief under Rule 23(b)(2) instead. From a rhetorical standpoint, seeking injunctive relief under Rule 23(b)(2) makes a powerful argument for certification – an injunction is true group relief; why wouldn’t it be appropriate to certify a class looking for an injunction?

This rhetorical technique has largely worked. A number of plaintiffs’ and defense counsel I’ve spoken with operate under the distinct impression that it is easier … Continue Reading