The Party Status of Absent Plaintiff Class Members: Vulnerability to Counterclaims

51 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2011

See all articles by Joan E. Steinman

Joan E. Steinman

Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology

Date Written: October 12, 2011

Abstract

Class action suits often involve large numbers of plaintiffs who rarely participate in the litigation, and whose status as parties under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure remains unclear. Professor Steinman proposes a method by which courts can determine whether certain protections or obligations normally reserved for parties should apply to these absent class members. Using the "core characteristics" of parties that Professor Steinman has drawn from the case law, courts will be able to determine the party status of absent plaintiffs in accordance with the policies underlying both the particular federal rule at issue and the rule that governs class actions. Applying her proposed analysis to the question whether absent plaintiffs should be subject to counterclaims, Professor Steinman concludes that in virtually all cases such treatment would be inconsistent with the purposes of the federal rules and the class action device itself.

Keywords: class action, absent class member, counterclaim

JEL Classification: K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Steinman, Joan E., The Party Status of Absent Plaintiff Class Members: Vulnerability to Counterclaims (October 12, 2011). Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 69, No. 1171, 1981, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1942876

Joan E. Steinman (Contact Author)

Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology ( email )

565 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661-3691
United States

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