Class Actions -- 2017

Conagra Brands, Inc. v. Briseno   (U.S. Supreme Court)

Class action certification

This case involves whether a class action brought by users of Wesson oil was properly certified as a class. The class includes purchasers over a ten-year span, across eleven states, but there was no feasible plan for identifying class members. Federal courts are divided on whether a class action may be certified if there is no reliable way to find class members, short of specific fact finding and a series of mini-trials. Four circuits have held there must be an administrable method for determining the makeup of a class before it can be certified. In the Ninth Circuit's view, it is unnecessary for a plaintiff to make this demonstration before class certification.

The NAM filed an amicus brief arguing that this stark conflict should not be allowed to persist: class certification—the most critical question in these lawsuits—should not turn on the location of the litigation. Additionally, plaintiffs’ lawyers will likely seek to circumvent ascertainability requirements adopted in four circuits by filing nationwide or multi-state class actions in the Ninth Circuit.

On October 10, 2017, the US Supreme Court denied certiorari.

Related Documents:
NAM amicus brief  (May 12, 2017)


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