Last week, we discussed the factors that courts consider when they determine whether a case is susceptible to class certification under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In essence, a court must find that there are enough common issues across a putative class of plaintiffs that it makes sense to decide those issues in a single class action case.
The Supreme Court recently decided a case involving class certification that many large companies had hoped would significantly limit the number of class certifications that would go forward. Given that much class action litigation is focused on individual workers or consumers suing large corporations, an impediment to that certification would be welcome among those entities.
Fortunately, some of the language in the Comcast case has been found by various courts of appeal throughout the U.S. to not mean what some have argued it means. The troublesome language stated, “that damages are susceptible of measurement across the entire class.”
Some cases had argued this meant that damages could not be calculated individually, and if that were necessary, it would necessitate the defeat class certification. But courts of appeal, including the Seventh Circuit, which Illinois belongs, looking at Comcast have noted that the decision requires the class damage to stem from the class theory of harm, not that the damages must all be identical.
And this makes sense, as otherwise, with the rare exception of a class where every member has the identical damage, all class action certifications would be rejected, which would allow many entities wrongdoing to escape litigation and many victims’ rights to go unvindicated and uncompensated.
Reuters.com, “The Supreme Court’s class action underachiever,” Alison Frankel, February 11, 2015