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Supreme Court Denies Mandatory Settlement Class Certification

Asbestos companies approached a group of plaintiffs' lawyers to discuss a "global settlement" of their tort liability, resulting in the filing of a mandatory class action that would bind all future claimants with no opt-out provision and thus permanently limit the defendants' liability. This proceeding arises from the certification of the class and approval of the resulting settlement, which were sought simultaneously.

The class certification issues in this case are "logically antecedent" to Article III concerns and also pertain to statutory standing, "which may properly be treated before Article III standing...."

The Court disapproves the use of mandatory settlement-only class certification on a limited fund theory in tort cases, based partly on the history and nature of limited fund practice and partly on Seventh Amendment and due process concerns. It finds numerous more specific reasons to disapprove the certification in this case. See: Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corporation, 119 S.Ct. 2295 (1999).

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Related legal case

Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corporation