The House Judiciary Committee recently approved a proposed bill that would modify class certification standards under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23. H.R. 1927, the 2015 Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, is another attempt to force courts to require that the party seeking to maintain a class action affirmatively demonstrate through admissible evidentiary proof that each proposed class member suffered an injury of the same type and extent as the injury of the named class representatives. The bill defines “injury” as the alleged impact of the defendant’s actions on the plaintiff’s body or property.
The committee voted 15-10 to approve an amendment, introduced by Committee Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), to exempt plaintiffs seeking only declaratory or injunctive relief, as a means to carve out most civil rights plaintiffs, from the bill’s proposed requirement. The amended bill would apply only to proposed classes seeking monetary relief for personal injury or economic loss. The Committee then voted 15-10 to send H.R. 1927 to the full House for consideration.
This type of bill is generally is aimed at the so-called no injury class actions in which not all of the class members are injured, sometimes even most of the class is not injured — for example purchasers of a consumer product with an alleged design defect that has not manifested itself in most of the units. Such classes create issues for defendants, plaintiffs, and the courts. The bill’s sponsors argue that when classes are certified that include members who do not have the same type and scope of injury as the class representatives, those members siphon off limited compensatory resources. Classes including uninjured parties can also artificially inflate the size of the class to command a larger settlement value.