U.S. District Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg ruled on August 28, 2017 that a class of 24 to 25 direct purchasers did not satisfy the “numerosity” requirement of Rule 23(a)(1) for class certification. Florence Drug Co. of Florence, Inc. v. Cephalon, Inc., No. 06-c-1797, ECF 1072 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 28, 2017), on remand from In

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.
Continue Reading Three Reasons Class Actions Will Rebound, Part 2

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12+ years

In its more than 12 years of life, the case of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend has offered dozens of chances for the lawyers to persuade — or not.

Although class counsel suffered a tough 5-4 defeat in the U.S. Supreme Court, we convinced judges often enough to eke out $35 million in cash, bill credits, and services for the Philadelphia-area class.

Class plaintiffs prevailed mostly because we had the better side of the issues. But we also did a better job of earning the trust of the decision-makers we appeared before — the district judges in Boston and Philadelphia, appellate judges on the First and Third Circuits, and even justices of the Supreme Court.

Let me give you a few reasons for my view.
Continue Reading Lessons from an Epic Case — Trust

imageBring your checkbook

Today resumes the series on take-aways from the epic case of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend — an antitrust class action that began more than a dozen years ago, produced dozens of opinions, and survived a loss in the U.S. Supreme Court before ending in a $50 million settlement, the benefits of which class members started receiving last month.

Today’s lesson underscores a harsh reality — and one that critics of class actions tend to forget: Class actions cost class counsel not only their time but also their money, potentially large quantities of it.
Continue Reading Lessons from an Epic Case — Bring Your Checkbook

imageOn December 8, 2003, the antitrust class action that lawyers know as Comcast Corp. v. Behrend started a 12-year odyssey through the federal courts. On December 15, 2015, the settlement that will end Behrend became final.

Today begins a five-part series on lessons that Behrend taught. This post will focus on a need that all plaintiffs share: the need for speed in getting to a final outcome, whether favorable or not. But it highlights a danger that exists especially in legally complex cases — the risk that the governing law will make reaching a favorable final resolution more costly, time-consuming, and risky. 
Continue Reading Lessons from an Epic Case — The Need for Speed

Banned ItemsIn 2016, despite contracts that mandate one-on-one arbitrations, consumers will likely gain the right to bring claims against banks, credit card issuers, and other lenders in class actions. The new rule, which the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced on October 7, 2015 it will probably issue next year, will partially reverse a string of recent Supreme Court decisions that made class-banning arbitration clauses broadly enforceable.

The action by the Bureau will vastly raise the stakes for disputes involving practices affecting large numbers of consumer finance customers.
Continue Reading Banning Bans on (Some) Class Cases

The Macondo spill also spawned securities fraud claims
The Macondo spill also spawned securities fraud claims

Modest decision

In Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct. 1426 (2013), a 5-4 majority — over an extraordinary joint dissent by Justices Ginsburg and Breyer — had to work hard to make a modest ruling. The Court held that plaintiffs seeking class treatment under Rule 23(b)(3) sometimes may have to plausibly link their theory of liability (the misconduct that caused damages) to the theory of class-wide damages (the estimate of the damages flowing from the misconduct) in order to obtain class certification.

I say emphatically that the Court did not hold that any plaintiff class seeking certification under Rule 23(b)(3) must prove damages on a class-wide basis. It said only that if a class cannot obtain class certification without establishing class-wide damages, then by golly it must show that it can establish class-wide damages.

I should know; I briefed and argued the case for the plaintiff class.
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Misapplies Comcast, Affirms Class Anyway

Pork Processing PlantAnother Term, another chance to gut class actions

If you've watched the Supreme Court over the last several years, you may have marveled at how earnestly some of the justices have worked to render Rule 23 a dead letter. Behold:

  • You have to arbitrate class claims individually. AT&T Mobility, LLC v. Concepcion, 531 U.S. 321