9th Circ. Decision Sets New Framework For Class Certification

“9th Circ. Decision Sets New Framework For Class Certification,” an article by Akin Gump litigation partner Seamus Duffy, Supreme Court and appellate senior counsel Aileen McGrath and associate Mike Weisbuch, with assistance credited to partner Michael Stortz, has been published by Law360.

The article discusses a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit that the authors consider a “watershed decision” that “established several significant benchmarks for determining class certification under Rule 23(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”

The authors note that, previously, the 9th Circuit had neither provided clear guidance regarding evidence required to show that common questions in a class predominate over individual inquiries, nor addressed whether district courts may certify a class containing uninjured members.

The April 8 en banc decision held that “plaintiffs must show, by a preponderance of admissible evidence, that common questions are susceptible to class wide proof. The court also rejected a per se rule precluding certification of a Rule 23(b)(3) class containing more than a de minimis number of uninjured members.”

The authors write that because the decision “provides a thorough framework for assessing 23(b)(3) motion for class certification, the case will likely have a significant impact” in the 9th Circuit and beyond.

They then outline the background of the case, which involved an established price-fixing conspiracy among the largest U.S. suppliers of packaged tuna; discuss the en banc opinion; and share takeaways for the reader.