First Circuit Overturns Certification of Class With Uninjured Members

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court’s ruling that certified a class action even though there were individuals who were part of the class who had not suffered a concrete injury.

The ruling is another in a series of cases involving the subject of uninjured class members and what to do with them in class-action lawsuits. In this case, about 10% of the class did not suffer a concrete injury, yet the District Court judge had certified the class and ruled that the uninsured members could be removed in a separate proceeding that was overseen by a claims administrator.

A copy of the ruling can be accessed by clicking here.

The ruling, issued earlier this week, involved a pharmaceutical company pulling a drug off the market months before its patent was set to expire, only to replace it with virtually the same drug, under a different name. A class-action lawsuit was filed against the company, alleging it violated consumer protection and antitrust laws in 25 states.

Most importantly, the First Circuit’s ruling creates a split at the Appellate Court level on handling uninjured members of a class, which could lead to a Supreme Court hearing on the topic.

“In any event, in no case cited above, nor in any case to which plaintiffs have directed our attention, has a federal court affirmed a damages judgment in a class action against a defendant who was precluded from raising genuine challenges at trial to the assertion of liability by individual members of a class that was known to have members who could not be presumed to be injured,” Judge William Kayatta wrote in the opinion. “Nor has either party drawn to our attention any federal court allowing, under Rule 23, a trial in which thousands of class members testify. We see no reason to think that this case should be the first such case.”

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