The class action device is essential to a well-functioning system of justice because of its ability to balance the values of access to the courts and efficient adjudication of disputes. This was the vision of the drafters of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. This Court can and should interpret Rule 23's text in a way that vindicates these overarching goals.
Particularly in an adjudicative class action, the certification motion needs to be understood as a preliminary step that is complimented by motions to dismiss and summary judgment motions. The aim of class certification is not to screen out suits that fail even to allege a claim for relief (that is for motions to dismiss), nor to issue dispositive rulings on the merits (that is the purpose of summary judgment or trial). Instead, it is to determine whether the purposes of the class action rule would be served by proceeding with a collective litigation.
The district court case did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the proposed class met the requirements of Rule 23(a). In fact, the court’s attention to the detailed pleadings and the extensive evidence gathered by the parties in assessing whether the named plaintiffs’ claims shared common questions of law or fact with claims of absent class members showed a level of rigorous evaluation that went beyond the 23(a) threshold. Classification of the class under 23(b)(2) was also appropriate under the Federal Rules. Petitioner’s contrary arguments ignore the text, purpose and history of Rule 23.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Class Action, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, Certification Motion, Rule 23(a), Rule 23(b)(2), Employment Discrimination, Gender Discrimination
Hart, Melissa; Lahav, Alexandra D.; Miller, Arthur; Secunda, Paul M.; and Steinman, Adam, "U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief of Civil Procedure Professors in Support of Respondents, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, No. 10-277" (2011). New York University Law and Economics Working Papers. Paper 269.