Source - Developments in Class Action Law

Class Action Decisions Published October 2023

Highlights from this issue include:

Standing Issues. The Third Circuit provided clarity on standing issues under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The plaintiff brought a consumer class action against a debt collection agency, alleging the agency sent “misleading and deceptive” collection letters. The Third Circuit held the named plaintiff had standing under traditional standing purposes based on the financial harm she suffered in reliance on the confusing collection letters. The court next held that whether unnamed class members had standing could not be determined in the absence of individualized inquiry as to whether they, too, had engaged in “consequential action or inaction” as a result of receiving the letter. This was a Rule 23 issue, not an Article III issue because in the Third Circuit, “so long as a named class representative has standing, a class action presents a valid case or controversy under Article III.”

Rule 23 Standards. The Tenth Circuit reiterated the standards to apply when determining class certification and held the district court applied the wrong legal standard to multiple requirements.

  • Commonality. The Tenth Circuit held the district court improperly scrutinized the class for noncommon issues, rather than common ones. The district court improperly assessed whether any individualized inquiries would be necessary rather than at least one common issue of law or fact existed.
  • Typicality. The Tenth Circuit held the district erred when it did not discuss the plaintiffs’ legal theories or compare them with putative class members’ claims, or explain how the factual differences identified would impact the legal or remedial theories supporting class members’ claims.
  • Predominance. The Tenth Circuit held the district court improperly analyzed the predominance requirement because it failed to (1) identify which elements of the plaintiffs’ claims would be subject to class-wide proof; (2) identify which elements of the plaintiffs’ claim would be subject to individualized proof (other than damages); or (3) determine which of these issues would predominate.

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