The Modern Law of Class Actions and Due Process
34 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2019
Date Written: March 7, 2019
Our goal in writing this article was to offer helpful insight for a reformed interpretation and application of Rule 23 that would make the Rule serve its intended democratic function. The idea of due process is a promise of the rule of law tempered by reasonableness, fairness, and efficiency. It embraces both the value of individual autonomy and the collective interests of the community. The idea of class actions, premised on due process, is to provide a pragmatic method of dispute resolution that is fair to the individual and responsive to the needs of the community and the challenges generated by widely spread and shared harms. In this respect, class actions operate as a tool of democracy. Rule 23 should be interpreted from this hopeful and effective perspective, one that balances individual autonomy against the legitimate needs of the community. But the Rule is not accomplishing its mission. As we show in the article, it appears to be infused with its framers’ self-doubts, and the Supreme Court treats it as an unwelcome guest in the home of traditional litigation forms—see, for example, our discussions of Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corporation (1999); Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes (2011); Jennings v. Rodriguez (2018); Nutraceuticals Corp. v. Lambert (2019).
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