The final hurdle interposed by Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) is that the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4). To satisfy constitutional due process concerns, absent class members must be afforded adequate representation before entry of a judgment which binds them. Resolution of two questions determines legal adequacy: (1) do the named plaintiffs and their counsel have any conflicts of interest with other class members and (2) will the named plaintiffs and their counsel prosecute the action vigorously on behalf of the class?
A nationwide class action was filed against appellee automobile manufacturer because of faulty rear latches in minivans purchased by between three and four million customers. The district court certified the class, which did not include any personal injury or wrongful death victims, and approved the settlement between the parties, which consisted of an agreement by appellee to repair the faulty latches and to pay attorney fees, among other things. Appellants, certain members of the class and an interest group, objected to the settlement. The court affirmed on appeal.
Were absent class members afforded adequate representation before entry of judgment?
The appellants presented no evidence to indicate any deficiencies or conflicts of interest on the part of class counsel, that the named representatives fulfilled the threshold requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) by satisfying the preconditions of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation, and also satisfied the heightened scrutiny given toRule 23(a) requirements when considering certification of a settlement-only class. Further, the court found that the settlement was fundamentally fair, adequate, and reasonable, and was clearly acceptable to the majority of the class.