Many defense lawyers get particularly impassioned about adequacy in class actions; and I’m no exception. After all, adequacy ensures (or at least it is supposed to ensure) that a real plaintiff with a real injury–as opposed to lawyer with a LEXIS/NEXIS account and a hunger for fees–is bringing the case. In a recent article for the George Washington Law Review Texas Law Professor Patrick Woolley takes a look at adequacy from a different angle. He argues that when a court examines adequacy in a proposed class action, it should be looking at whether it has personal jurisdiction over the … Continue Reading

It’s a situation familiar to many class-action defendants: a plaintiff files a complaint with, say, ten causes of action. But, by the time the case reaches the certification stage, she’s voluntarily dismissed nine of them–including the ones that actually address the alleged harm–in favor of an attenuated theory that she thinks stands the best chance of getting certified. (For example, a case that’s clearly about fraud somehow morphs into a breach-of-contract case; or a tort case about an alleged safety defect becomes a breach-of-express-warranty case specifically disclaiming any future physical injuries.) No individual plaintiff in her right mind would assert … Continue Reading

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard argument in Smith v. Bayer Corp. The argument featured very active participation by the justices. The argument  featured several very interesting moments:

Plaintiffs’ argument focused primarily on whether a collateral estoppel ruling on class certification deprives putative class members of due process.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: [Y]ou’re really arguing that due process requires the same treatment, essentially, of notice and an opportunity to be heard that we are giving to a substantive decision that blocks a future member from pursuing his or her claim, correct?
MR. MONAHAN: Yes, very similar, Your Honor. I mean, in

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 Paul Karlsgodt of Classactionblawg.com got there first (in a post that should win "Title of the Month" hands-down), but Judge Posner’s opinion yesterday denying rehearing (and announcing there will be no en banc rehearing) in Thorogood v. Sears Roebuck & Co. is still worth an extra post.  Not just because Judge Posner discusses the results of an informal poll of the panel’s wives, not just because he cites a YouTube link of Simon Cowell, and not just because the ever-irreverent Above the Law is likely to feature the opinion as a classic benchslap.    

The primary … Continue Reading

Debra Lynn Bassett recently published a discussion of the preclusive effect of class actions in the Brigham Young University Law Review. Her thesis is aimed at the theoretical justifications for allowing class actions to have preclusive effect, most of which she finds severely wanting. In general, her discussion does not have much practical use; it’s aimed instead at reforming class-action policy.

However, Lynn Bassett does highlight one important issuefor practitioners.

Despite the Court’s insistence on "adequate representation" as a prerequisite, the actual meaning and scope of the term remains surprisingly elusive. Although it is clear that adequate representation may

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