Pro 2 Notes
So far, we’ve seen the rudimentary structure of the way Rule 23 works and how it’s applied in the federal courts. The Rule has two parts: 23(a), which establishes the four prerequisites, and 23(b), which classifies the classes into one of three rigid categories.
Hansberry v. Lee
Hansberrys bought a house in
We didn’t have the class action rule that we have today back in 1940. Burke purported to represent herself and other property owners in similar situations. So it was a plaintiffs’ class against an individual defendant. The Illinois Supreme Court decided that it was indeed a class action and that Hansberry is a member of that class, and thus is bound by the stipulation that 95% of the signatures had been achieved. But was Hansberry really represented by the plaintiff class in Burke? No! There was a problem! Burke’s class representatives were trying to uphold the restrictive covenant! They didn’t represent Hansberry’s interests! They were adverse to his interests! Justice Stone says that Hansberry is not part of the same class as the Burke class.
This case stands for three things: (1) class members are entitled to adequate representation as a matter of constitutional law as a prerequisite to being bound by class litigation. (2) Since Hansberry isn’t going to be bound by the ruling in Burke v. Kleiman, he can dispute the factual finding that 95% of the residents signed the covenant. If you’re not an active participant in the class litigation, you can collaterally attack that litigation to see if you’re really bound by the former class because you were adequately represented by it. (3) If you are adequately represented, class members are bound by the result of the class litigation.
To what decree are the differences in the classes and the different requirements that the Rules embody creatures of efficiency as opposed to dictated by what the Constitution requires, especially along the lines of notice?
Phillips Petroleum v. Shutts
we have Phillips Petroleum. Phillips
spews forth oil. The leaseholds are
owned by individuals such as Shutts.
Phillips is trying to screw the little guys by paying them royalties on prices
that are too low. Shutts wants to
recover interest on the money that was withheld. There are 33,000 people in Shutts’s position
who get together to sue for the interest the oil company owes. Shutts sues in
Justice Rehnquist says we don’t need opt-in. Why? The issues of personal jurisdiction are not the same when you talk about a class of out-of-state plaintiffs than when you talk about out-of-state defendants. When you’re a class-action plaintiff, the state may exercise jurisdiction over the claim of an absent class-plaintiff, even though that plaintiff may not have minimum contacts. But the minimal requirements of due process must be met: there must be notice plus the opportunity to be heard and the ability to opt out. This later gets built in to Rule 23.