Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp.

527 U.S. 815, 119 S. Ct. 2295 (1999)

 

RULE:

Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(1)(B), read with subdivision (c)(2), provides for certification of a class whose members have no right to withdraw, when the prosecution of separate actions would create a risk of adjudications with respect to individual members of the class which would as a practical matter be dispositive of the interests of the other members not parties to the adjudications or substantially impair or impede their ability to protect their interests.

FACTS:

Petitioners were members of a massive class action lawsuit involving personal injury claims against respondent asbestos manufacturer. The trial court entered judgment certifying a mandatory settlement class on a limited fund theory under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(1)(B). The court of appeals affirmed. Petitioners contested the certification and on further review, the order of the court of appeals was reversed and remanded.

ISSUE:

Did the trial court err when it entered judgment certifying a mandatory settlement class on a limited fund theory under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(1)(B)?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court held that applicants for contested certification on this rationale had to show that the fund was limited by more than the agreement of the parties, and that it had been allocated to claimants in the class by a process addressing any conflicting interests of class members. The court determined that on the facts of the case it was improper to aggregate the individual tort claims in this manner.

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