IMG_0295A question of numbers

Class actions can save courts and parties a lot of time and money. But what if the class includes just a few members? How much time and money will the class action device save then?

The Third Circuit grappled with that “numerosity” question in In re Modafinil Antitrust Litig., 837 F.3d 238 (3d Cir. 2016).

The answer it gave — that a class with 20+/- mostly big members may not pass the test — could reshape how courts handle antitrust cases worth billions of dollars.


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497417651327Possible shift

In 2014, the ABA Journal called the Fifth Circuit the “nation’s most divisive, controversial and conservative appeals court”. Liberal blog Jezebel deemed it “exceedingly conservative”. Even The Wall Street Journal described the court this year as “conservative-leaning”.

But in a recent case over limits on voting rights, the court ruled for the left-leaning opponents of the restrictions. And last week, the court sitting en banc voted 11-5 to revive a $250+ million class action. Torres v. S.G.E. Management, L.L.C., No. 14-20128 (5th Cir. Sept. 30, 2016) (en banc).

Has the court’s center of gravity shifted?


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imageWe left off last Monday in the middle of something — the Seventh Circuit’s latest proof of its leadership in the law of class actions.

My talk of the Seventh Circuit surge followed a segment on The outsize influence of Justice Scalia.

Now let’s finish up with the surge before turning to the third and final reason class actions will rebound: Politics.
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imageThe Times’s Gretchen Morgenson asked in her “Fair Game” column whether making “financial executives personally liable for a portion of any . . . legal settlements” in class actions — regardless of personal fault — would cut down on bad conduct.

I bet it would.

But I have a better idea.

Promise to pay class action lawyers big bonuses for finding the actual bad guys and making them pay.
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