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A class action is maintainable under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2) when the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class, thereby making appropriate final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief with respect to the class as a whole. Subsection (b)(2) class actions are limited to those class actions seeking primarily injunctive or corresponding declaratory relief.
Plaintiff was a class of Pennsylvania residents who began smoking before age 19. They brought a products liability action against defendant tobacco companies seeking medical monitoring. Plaintiff secured preliminary certification, but the district court decertified the class and granted summary judgment to defendant on statute of limitations grounds. Plaintiff sought review.
Should a medical monitoring class be certified under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2)?
The court affirmed the judgment because the issues of addiction and causation, the defenses of comparative and contributory negligence, the need for medical monitoring, and the statute of limitations presented too many individual issues to permit certification. The court held that an individual's addiction could not be proved on a class-wide basis, that plaintiffs could not prove causation by merely showing that smoking cigarettes causes cancer and other diseases, that the defenses of comparative and contributory negligence existed because there was evidence that plaintiffs knew they were exposing themselves to a hazardous substance yet continued to smoke. Further, determining when a plaintiff's claim accrued necessitated individual inquiries for each plaintiff which would result in a lengthy series of individual trials.