The Issue Class Revolution

57 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2020 Last revised: 10 Mar 2020

See all articles by Myriam E. Gilles

Myriam E. Gilles

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Gary B. Friedman

Friedman Law Group

Date Written: January 20, 2020


In 2013, four Supreme Court Justices dissented from the decision in Comcast v. Behrend establishing heightened requirements for the certification of damages class actions. In a seemingly off-handed footnote, these dissenters observed that district courts could avoid the individualized inquiries that increasingly doom damages classes, by certifying a class under Rule 23 (c)(4) on “liability” issues only, and “leaving individual damages calculations to subsequent proceedings.” The dissenters were on to something big. In fact, the issue class and follow-on damages model has broad potential to restore the efficacy of aggregate litigation across a number of substantive areas, after decades of judicial hostility. This article offers a bold and original vision for the issue class procedure, promising scale efficiency while sidestepping the doctrinal land mines that dot the class action landscape. It is a vision rooted in sober pragmatism and an account of the economic incentives confronting entrepreneurial law firms as they consider investing in aggregate litigation under Rule 23(c)(4).

Keywords: class actions, MDL, issue class actions, ascertainability, arbitration, Comcast, reliance, mass torts

Suggested Citation

Gilles, Myriam and Friedman, Gary B., The Issue Class Revolution (January 20, 2020). Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 602, Available at SSRN: or

Myriam Gilles (Contact Author)

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

55 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-790-0344 (Phone)
212-790-0205 (Fax)

Gary B. Friedman

Friedman Law Group ( email )

270 Lafayette Street
Suite 1410
New York, NY
United States
212-680-5150 (Phone)

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