In Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, Justice Scalia registered his disapproval of using statistics to litigate liability in a class action, writing

The Court of Appeals believed that it was possible to replace such proceedings with Trial by Formula. A sample set of the class members would be selected, as to whom liability for sex discrimination and the backpay owing as a result would be determined in depositions supervised by a master. The percentage of claims determined to be valid would then be applied to the entire remaining class, and the number of (presumptively) valid claims thus derived

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Late last year, the Eleventh Circuit ruled on the preclusive effect of a state-certified class action in federal court.  The Federalist Society very kindly asked me to comment on it for their online journal Engage.  It turned out to be a really interesting project, because what started out as an opinion about preclusion turned out to be more about the nature of commonality.  Here’s a quick preview of the argument:

While at first glance Brown addresses the preclusive effect of the Engle class action, the real question the Eleventh Circuit wrestled with was the scope of Rule 23(b)(3)’s predominance

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Last year, a jury in New York City decided one of the few securities class actions ever to go to trial. Lest anyone think that a jury verdict is ever the end of a piece of complex litigation, the Southern District of New York released a post-trial opinion last week. The opinion is worth reading for several reasons–one of the best being that it contains one of the few accounts of how a securities class trial actually gets conducted. But, in addition, it also provides a look into how international securities class actions will be treated going … Continue Reading

Bench trials comprise a significant percentage of class-action trials. And class-action defense lawyers are often conflicted about whether it’s better to try a case in front of a jury or a judge. A judge may be better equipped to sort through some of the more complex issues in the case, but sometimes complexity can favor the defense in front of a jury. Moreover, many defense lawyers consider a judge who has certified a class to have already stated some opinion on how the case should proceed.

So what do lawyers need to be aware of when trying a class trial … Continue Reading

Class actions rarely go to trial, so it’s rare to learn anything from published decisions about how a class action gets tried. However, in Pierce v. County of Orange, the Ninth Circuit had to grapple with several evidentiary issues unique to class action. In Pierce, several prisoners in Orange County’s prison system filed a class action that challenged a number of prison practices, including an alleged deprivation of opportunities for exercise, limitation of prisoners’ access to common areas, and restrictions on their ability to practice religion. The cases were consolidated, certified for class treatment under Rules 23(b)(2) and (b)(3), … Continue Reading