While the Microsoft case is a clear victory for corporate defendants, there is some language in the opinion that may be useful in another important fight in a different venue. H.R. 985, the anti-class action bill passed earlier this year by the House, would permit an interlocutory appeal from every class certification order. The high court’s opinion strongly endorsed a contrary perspective – it highlighted the wisdom of Rule 23(f)’s “careful calibration” of the question as well as the preference for determining such issues through rulemaking rather than legislation. Senate Judiciary Committee, are you listening?
121 Civil Rights Non-Profits and 87 Ally Firms Oppose H.R. 985. On February 14, the Impact Fund submitted a letter on behalf of 121 civil rights non-profit organizations and advocates, joined by 87 ally law firms, to oppose H.R. 985 (“Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017”). H.R. 985, currently pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, would upend decades of settled class action law and undermine the enforcement of U.S. civil rights law.
Most people do not retain receipts for the myriad of food items and inexpensive consumer goods that they purchase each year. But, should this entirely understandable fact of modern life provide a license to corporations to defraud consumers who buy these products?
Good news for plaintiffs in a Third Circuit decision on mootness in a Rule 23(b)(2) injunctive relief class action, Richardson v. Bledsoe, No. 15-2876 (3d Cir. July 15, 2016). This case presents a variation of the Campbell-Ewald named plaintiff pick-off strategy in a systemic reform case. It recognizes a “picking off” exception to mootness in a class action where the individual claim for relief is “acutely susceptible to mootness” by the actions of the defendant. This one takes a bit of explaining.
In modern litigation, the term “cy près” refers to the act of designating unclaimed class funds to public interest organizations whose work furthers the interests of the class and is tied to the purpose of the litigation. But the concept of cy près originated long ago in the law of charitable trusts in courts of equity. Today, cy près is generally used only after class funds have been distributed to class members, but it has become impossible or impracticable to distribute some remaining portion of the class funds, such as in the following situations:
For more than a year, a subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules has been soliciting and vetting ideas for amending Rule 23, the federal class action rule (see previous post here). These hardy souls (Judge Robert M. Dow, Professor Robert Klonoff, Elizabeth Cabraser and John Barkett) have criss-crossed the country, attending more than a dozen conferences to hear from practitioners across the spectrum. The Impact Fund’s 2015 Class Action conference in Berkeley was one of the subcommittee’s whistlestops.