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The House of Representatives has reintroduced the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (FICALA), and it’s more substantial than the 2015 version.  The previous version, you may recall, attempted to reinforce the typicality requirement to minimize the number of “no injury” class actions brought.  It cleared the House, but died in the Senate.  It appears that House Republicans sense an opportunity with the new administration to enact more sweeping class reforms.
I testified in support of the 2015 Act, and having read the new bill, I like it even more. I think it lives up to its … Continue Reading

Rule 23(c)(4) has been been placed under a microscope in the past few years, largely because of the judicial response to the Supreme Court’s Comcast Corp. v. Behrend opinion, and the Rules Advisory Committee’s subsequent consideration of possible amendments to the Rule.

In the course of that attention, two articles have come out that illustrate the contours of the debate over the proper scope of issue certification. They are particularly instructive when you look at them together.

First, in 2015, Professor Joseph A. Seiner published an article on the use of 23(c)(4) in labor class actions specifically, titled Continue Reading

Last week, the Rule 23 Subcommittee of the Federal Rules Advisory Committee published its draft concept amendments to Rule 23.  You can find them here.   (They’re in the April 2015 Agenda Book.)  What follows is my personal reaction to the proposed concept amendments.  They will be subject to public comment, and, I imagine, vigorous further debate.
Here’s the good news.  The Subcommittee has made two completely unobjectionable proposals.  First, it would modify Rule 23(e) to require a statement of any side agreements before an objector withdraws an objection.  Greater transparency is always good.  Second, it would allow for emailed … Continue Reading

The Advisory Committee should clarify the role of issue certification, by reinforcing that issue certification is only appropriate when a class is otherwise certifiable under Rule 23.  

One of the Advisory Committee’s “front burner” issues is whether to clarify Rule 23(c)(4), establishing either that it (1) only applies when the rest of Rule 23 has been met, or (2) is an alternative route to certification for plaintiffs willing to narrow the scope of their case. As the Subcommittee Report describes the current state of issue certification:

 Rule 23(c)(4) says that “[w]hen appropriate, an action may be brought or maintained as

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Since Judge Posner’s opinion in McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch almost two years ago, the issue of issue certification has been enjoying a renaissance. The latest entry in the discussion of how to look at issue certification comes from defense lawyer (and Georgetown adjunct law professor) Mark Perry, in his article Issue Certification under Rule 23(c)(4): A Reappraisal, 62 DePaul L. Rev. 733 (2013).

Perry bases his analysis on the proposal offered by Columbia Professor John Coffee that appeared in the 2011 version of his "New Class Action Landscape" memo. (A smart move: Professor Coffee is a … Continue Reading

 We’re in the middle of the holiday season, and that means that folks are making (or, for those who celebrate Hannukkah, checking off) their wish lists. This October, the Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform compiled one of their own in their report A Roadmap for Reform: Lessons from Eight Years of the Class Action Reform Act. Why pay attention to this report? As class action defense counsel, don’t we already know what we’d like?

Sure. But the report was prepared by John Beisner, a long-recognized thought leader in class action defense. [Disclosure: I worked Continue Reading

In the wake of Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, Judge Posner certified a class of African-American brokers who claimed racial discrimination solely for the purpose of determining whether a pair of compensation policies were discriminatory. Since the publication of that opinion–McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch–the topic of how to deal with the possibility of "issue certification" under Rule 23(c)(4) has become a hot topic for practitioners.

Kansas law professor Laura J. Hines has long written about the issues surrounding issue certification. And her latest paper, The Unruly Class Action, contains her latest and best effort at … Continue Reading

After Dukes, many commentators bemoaned that the class action was dead. At the very least, many argued (as did some last week at DePaul Law School’s Symposium on Class Action Rollback) that the Title VII class action is likely on its last legs.

If so, no one told the plaintiffs’ counsel prosecuting McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce Fenner & Smith (7th Cir. 2012), where the Seventh Circuit just reversed denial of a class seeking injunctive relief and certification of a class for the purpose of determining whether disparate-impact discrimination had occurred against African-American brokers.

The case … Continue Reading