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China Agritech, Inc. v. Resh

Supreme Court of the United States

March 26, 2018, Argued; June 11, 2018, Decided

No. 17-432.

Opinion

Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case concerns the tolling rule first stated in  [*1804] American Pipe & Constr.  [**128]  Co. v. Utah, 414 U. S. 538, 94 S. Ct. 756, 38 L. Ed. 2d 713 (1974). The Court held in American Pipe that the timely filing of a class action tolls the applicable statute of limitations for all persons encompassed by the class complaint. Where class-action status has been denied, the Court further ruled, members of the failed class could timely intervene as individual plaintiffs in the still-pending action, shorn of its class character. See id., at 544, 552-553, 94 S. Ct. 756, 38 L. Ed. 2d 713. Later, in Crown, Cork & Seal Co. v. Parker, 462 U. S. 345, 103 S. Ct. 2392, 76 L. Ed. 2d 628 (1983), the Court clarified American Pipe’s tolling rule: The rule is not dependent on intervening in or joining an existing suit; it applies as well to putative class members who, after denial of class [***7]  certification, “prefer to bring an individual suit rather than intervene . . . once the economies of a class action [are] no longer available.” 462 U. S., at 350, 353-354, 103 S. Ct. 2392, 76 L. Ed. 2d 628; see California Public Employees’ Retirement System v. ANZ Securities, Inc., 582 U. S. ___, ___, 137 S. Ct. 2042, 198 L. Ed. 2d 584, 596 (2017) (American Pipe “permitt[ed] a class action to splinter into individual suits”); Smith v. Bayer Corp., 564 U. S. 299, 313-314, n. 10, 131 S. Ct. 2368, 180 L. Ed. 2d 341 (2011) (under American Pipe tolling rule, “a putative member of an uncertified class may wait until after the court rules on the certification motion to file an individual claim or move to intervene in the [existing] suit”).

The question presented in the case now before us: Upon denial of class certification, may a putative class member, in lieu of promptly joining an existing suit or promptly filing an individual action, commence a class action anew beyond the time allowed by the applicable statute of limitations? Our answer is no. American Pipe tolls the statute of limitations during the pendency of a putative class action, allowing unnamed class members to join the action individually or file individual claims if the class fails. But American Pipe does not permit the maintenance of a follow-on class action past expiration of the statute of limitations.

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138 S. Ct. 1800 *; 201 L. Ed. 2d 123 **; 2018 U.S. LEXIS 3502 ***; 86 U.S.L.W. 4369; Fed. Sec. L. Rep. (CCH) P100,113; 100 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 1370; 27 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 336; 2018 WL 2767565

CHINA AGRITECH, INC., Petitioner v. MICHAEL H. RESH, et al.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Prior History:  [***1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Resh v. China Agritech, Inc., 857 F.3d 994, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9029 (9th Cir. Cal., May 24, 2017)

Disposition: 857 F. 3d 994, reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

class action, tolling, district court, lead plaintiff, class representative, individual claim, filings, class claim, certification, class certification, statute of limitations, notice, intervene, putative class action, putative class member, class-action, shareholders, suits, join, limitations period, class suit, lead-plaintiff, statute of repose, putative class, tolling rule, untimely, parties, absent class members, class member, class-certification

Civil Procedure, Statute of Limitations, Tolling of Statute of Limitations, Class Actions, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Certification of Classes, Governments, Legislation, Tolling, Time Limitations, General Overview