Practical Law Feature Article: Class Actions are Dead. Long Live Class Actions.

March 5, 2014

Practical Law logo newDespite being hailed as the “death knell” of class actions, recent Supreme Court rulings on class action certification have not led to the demise of the class action device.  To the contrary, class actions are alive and well; they continue to be certified by the lower courts and embraced in increasingly inventive ways by plaintiffs’ counsel.  As the jurisprudence on class certification continues to develop, counsel on both sides of the caption must understand the evolving legal landscape to effectively litigate at the class certification stage.

Recent Supreme Court and circuit court rulings underscore the contrasting ways in which class action certification standards are being applied.  For example:

  • In Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct 1426 (2013) and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011), the Supreme Court addressed, among other things, the high threshold plaintiffs must meet to be entitled to class certification.  This led some members of the legal community to predict that the death of class actions was near.
  • However, in interpreting these decisions, several circuit courts have distinguished and limited the holdings of Comcast and Dukes.  Indeed, the US Courts of Appeals for the Sixth and Seventh Circuits even expressly declined to alter prior rulings granting certification.
  • On February 24, 2014, the Supreme Court determined not to review the limited interpretations given to Dukes and Comcast by the Sixth and Seventh Circuits.  This may be seen by some as an implicit endorsement of viewing those cases through a narrow lens.

The Feature Article, linked below, discusses several recent cases addressing the standards for class certification.  The Feature also links to Practical Law tools and resources available to guide counsel involved in class action litigation.

To read the full Feature Article, see Class Actions Are Dead.  Long Live Class Actions.