On February 2, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit weighed in on the “ascertainability” debate raging in the federal courts – specifically, whether plaintiffs must show that it would be “administratively feasible” to identify class members before the class can be certified. The term “ascertainability” is not in the text of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Some courts, however, view ascertainability as an implicit requirement of a properly defined class. Other courts take it a step further and embrace a “heightened ascertainability” standard – i.e., “administrative feasibility” – and deny certification when plaintiffs fail to prove that the process for identifying absent class members will be administratively feasible.
Continue Reading The Eleventh Circuit Joins the Majority in Rejecting a Heightened Ascertainability Requirement for Class Actions

In a decision with potentially far-reaching consequences for class actions, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the ubiquitous practice of awarding a class representative an “incentive” payment as part of a class action settlement is impermissible. Johnson v. NPAS Solutions, Inc., No. 18-12344, ___ F.3d ____, 2020 WL 5553312 (11th Cir. Sept. 17, 2020).
Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Rules That Class Representative Incentive Awards Are Impermissible

It has been two years since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court (BMS). In BMS, the Court held that state courts lacked personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants relating to state-law mass tort claims that had no connection to the forum state. We have followed this decision closely on the blog here and here.
Continue Reading On the Road Again: Does Bristol-Myers Squibb Limit Courts’ Jurisdiction Over Claims by Out-of-State Class Members?

The Seventh Circuit has struck down a common feature of preliminary approval orders of federal class action settlements. The Seventh Circuit held that a federal court may not preliminarily enjoin class members from prosecuting related state lawsuits while the court decides whether to give final approval to the class settlement.  Adkins v. Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., No. 14-3436, 2015 WL 864931 (7th Cir. Mar. 2, 2015).

These types of preliminary injunctions are commonly used in a broad range of consumer and other class settlements, and they are particularly important when a defendant is facing several competing class actions on the same issue.  But the Seventh Circuit held that these injunctions violate the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2283—even though the court acknowledged that federal settlements “may well collapse” if state actions go to judgment before federal courts can approve the settlements.    
Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Guts Important Tool for Resolving Federal Class Actions

On Monday, December 15, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion that makes it easier for defendants to remove class actions to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”). Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens does so in three ways:

1.     A defendant’s Notice of Removal does not have to include evidentiary submissions to establish federal jurisdiction under CAFA.  A CAFA class action can be removed to federal court if the amount in controversy – i.e. value of the case – exceeds $5 million.  Under Dart, defendants need only make a “plausible allegation” that the value of the case satisfies this jurisdictional amount.  Evidence supporting the amount alleged is not required. This “plausible allegation” standard echoes the “short and plain statement” pleading standard in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). If neither the plaintiff nor the district court contests the defendant’s allegations regarding the amount in controversy, no “evidence” is necessary.  But if the allegations are contested, both sides submit proof, and the court will decide, by a preponderance of the evidence standard, whether the amount in controversy is met.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Eases Removal of CAFA Actions