Defendants face a dilemma when dealing with absent class members. On the one hand, they often have valuable information about a case, either as sources for variations that would defeat certification or as trial witnesses. On the other hand, plaintiffs will vigorously oppose any contact with absent class members, even if it is for a proper business purpose (like, say, responding to customer inquiries), as an improper attempt to either influence or harass members of the proposed class. So how should defendants handle taking discovery of absent class members?

Carefully. Today’s case, Antoninetti v. Chipotle, Inc., 2011 U.S. … 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