Judge Richard Posner has always been an independent thinker, something he has proven in the last year as, despite his economically conservative credentials (which would lead one to presume a possible defense bias), he authored a number of arguably pro-plaintiff class certification opinions, particularly his twin opinions in the controversial case Butler v. Sears Roebuck

2013 did not offer the blockbuster docket in front of the Supreme Court that 2011 did, but that didn’t stop the Court from issuing a number of opinions whose effects will be felt for some time to come. In addition, a number of other courts took bold steps to either support or constrain class

 Carol Giles, a nurse, sued her hospital in small claims court, alleging that it did not reimburse her for training time, and asking for a policy on training reimbursement. When the hospital unveiled its policy, it agreed to pay nurses for two years’ reimbursement in exchange for a release of any claims.

So Ms. Giles

A heavy-metals plant in Alloy, West Virginia provided a foundation for the local economy throughout the 20th century. (Hence the name Alloy.) In the 21st century, it provided the basis for an extensive class action lawsuit–Coleman v. Union Carbide Corp., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140613 (S.D. W. Va. Sep. 30, 2013)–which alleged that decades of substandard emissions

 After watching an infomercial, Harry Wiedenbeck bought a "comprehensive" medical health insurance plan for himself and his wife. When the insurer subsequently denied a claim based on his wife’s hospitalization, Mr. Wiedenbeck filed a class action alleging fraud and bad faith on behalf of all Wisconsin residents who had bought the plan.

The subsequent case

 Judge Posner is often considered to be a pro-defense jurist, particularly in the area of class actions. Lately, he’s been proving himself to be more independent-minded than that. First, he allowed certification of a washing machine class, justifying certification despite some outcome-determinative individualized issues because predominance is a matter of "efficiency," and should not be

 It’s an odd quirk of class action practice that an automotive company defending a products-liability class will be quick to invoke the superiority of its regulator (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA), while a securities defendant will rarely–if ever–argue that the case is better handled by the SEC. (The difference may be