Source - Developments in Class Action Law

Class Action Decisions Published May 2023

Highlights from this issue include:

Ascertainability. The Tenth Circuit affirmed it treated ascertainability as a sub-requirement of numerosity, not a standalone criteria. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the denial of certification of a class of college students who alleged Brigham Young University breached its contracts with students who paid tuition to attend in-person classes but were not allowed to do so after universities shut down their campuses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It found the class failed the ascertainability requirement in part because records did not show who paid the tuition—i.e., whether it was paid by the student, the student’s parents, or other family members.

Standing. The Sixth Circuit held the “juridical link doctrine” is a not a viable basis to allow named plaintiffs to bring a class action against defendants that did not injure them. The case involved a putative class action, alleging an unconstitutional taking from various counties’ practice of selling properties at a foreclosure sale for unpaid taxes but failing to remit the excess of the sale prices over the taxes due back to the taxpayer. This practice happened to the named plaintiff in Saginaw County, Michigan, but he also sued 26 other counties that did not injure him under the “juridical link” doctrine, which is a doctrine that allows a named plaintiff in a putative class action to sue defendants who have not injured that plaintiff if those defendants have injured absent class members. The Sixth Circuit rejected this doctrine—joining the Second Circuit and rejecting the Seventh Circuit—and held that the plaintiff only had standing to sue Saginaw County.

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