Federal Class Actions
by Caitlin Szematowicz on September 9th, 2020 in Business & Corporate Law, Litigation
There are specific rules that pertain to federal class actions. The Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23 governs class actions. Further, the Local Rules for the Middle District of Florida, Rule 4.04, governs the local requirements for class actions.
This article will review these rules.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure – Rule 23
The Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23 provides the prerequisites for maintaining a class. The Rule specifically provides that one of more members of a class may sue – or be sued – as representative parties on behalf of all members only if:
- the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
- there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
- the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
- the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
The Rule also provides for the types of class actions. Specifically, a class action may be maintained if the above prerequisites are satisfied and if:
- prosecuting separate actions by or against individual class members would create a risk of: (a) inconsistent or varying adjudications with respect to individual class members that would establish incompatible standards of conduct for the party opposing the class; or (b) adjudications with respect to individual class members that, as a practical matter, would be dispositive of the interests of the other members not parties to the individual adjudications or would substantially impair or impede their ability to protect their interests;
- the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole; or
- the court finds that the questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy. The matters pertinent to these findings include: (a) the class members’ interests in individually controlling the prosecution or defense of separate actions; (b) the extent and nature of any litigation concerning the controversy already begun by or against class members; (c) the desirability or undesirability of concentrating the litigation of the claims in the particular forum; and (d) the likely difficulties in managing a class action.
Local Rules for the Middle District of Florida: Rule 4.04
Local rules may also apply to your class action. For instance, the Local Rules for the Middle District of Florida, Rule 4.04, discusses certain local requirements for class actions.
The Local Rule provides that in any case sought to be maintained as a class action pursuant to the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23, the complaint shall contain a separate hearing entitled “CLASS ACTION ALLEGATIONS.” The complaint shall also contain detailed allegations of fact showing the existence of the several prerequisites to a class action as enumerated in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b).
Furthermore, within ninety days following the filing of the initial complaint in a class action, the named plaintiff(s) shall move for a determination under Federal Rule of Civil procedure 23(c)(1) as to whether the case is to be maintained by a class action. The motion must be supported by an appropriate memorandum of law and contain a detailed description or definition of the class and the number of persons within the class. Furthermore, if a determination is sought that the class action shall be maintained under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3), the motion shall suggest a means of providing – and defraying the cost of – the notice required by the Federal Rules. If discovery relating to class action issues is necessary, the parties may move the Court for leave to take such discovery prior to the case management meeting.
In ruling upon a motion made under the above-referenced paragraph, the Court: (1) may allow the class action, (2) may disallow and strike the class action allegations, or (3) may order postponement of the determination pending additional discovery or such other preliminary procedures as may appear appropriate in the circumstances.
The Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23 also discusses conducting a class action and the orders which the order may enter regarding same. Specifically, in conducting an action under Rule 23, the Court may issue orders which:
- determine the course of proceedings or prescribe measures to prevent undue repetition or complication in presenting evidence or argument;
- require – to protect class members and fairly conduct the action – giving appropriate notice to some or all class members of: (i) any step in the action; (ii) the proposed extent of the judgment; or (iii) the members’ opportunity to signify whether they consider the representation fair and adequate, to intervene and present claims or defenses, or to otherwise come into the action;
- impose conditions on the representative parties or on intervenors;
- require that the pleadings be amended to eliminate allegations about representation of absent persons and that the action proceed accordingly; or
- deal with similar procedural matters.
The Rule includes various other sections which apply to class actions. Those sections not otherwise detailed herein include the following:
- Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23 (c) – which address certification orders; notice to class members; judgments; issues classes; and subclasses.
- Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23 (e) – which discusses settlements, voluntary dismissals, and/or compromises.
- Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23 (f) – which discusses appeals specific to class actions.
- Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23 (g) – which discusses class counsel and specifically appointing class counsel, and
- Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23 (h) attorney’s fees and nontaxable costs.
Contact the Attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.
The attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid have experience in class action defense. If you are involved in a class action, contact the civil litigation and commercial litigation attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. today.