precluded Rule 23(b)(1)(B) certification, the District Court ruled that both the disputed insurance asset liquidated by the $1.535 billion global settlement, and, alternatively, the sum of the value of Fibreboard plus the value of its insurance coverage, as measured by the insurance funds' settlement value, were relevant "limited funds." The Fifth Circuit affirmed both as to class certification and adequacy of settlement. Agreeing with the District Court's application of Rule 23(a), the Court of Appeals found, inter alia, that there were no conflicts of interest sufficiently serious to undermine the adequacy of class counsel's representation. As to Rule 23(b)(1)(B), the court approved the class certification on a "limited fund" rationale based on the threat to other class members' ability to receive full payment from Fibreboard's limited assets. This Court then decided Amchem Products, Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U. S. 591, vacated the Fifth Circuit's judgment, and remanded for further consideration in light of that decision. The Fifth Circuit again affirmed the District Court's judgment on remand.
1. This Court need not resolve two threshold matters before proceeding to the nub of the case. First, petitioners call the class claims nonjusticiable under Article III, saying that this is a feigned action initiated by Fibreboard to control its future asbestos tort liability, with the vast majority of the exposure-only class members being without injury in fact and hence without standing to sue. While an Article III court ordinarily must be sure of its own jurisdiction before getting to the merits, Steel Co. v. Citizens For Better Environment, 523 U. S. 83, 88- 89, a Rule 23 question should be treated first because class certification issues are "logically antecedent" to Article III concerns, Amchem, supra, at 612, and pertain to statutory standing, which may properly be treated before Article III standing, see Steel Co., supra, at 92. Second, although petitioners are correct that the Fifth Circuit on remand fell short in its attention to Amchem in passing on the Rule 23(a) issues, these points are dealt with in the Court's review of the certification on the Fifth Circuit's "limited fund" theory under Rule 23(b)(1)(B). Pp. 830-832.
2. Applicants for contested certification of a mandatory settlement class on a limited fund theory under Rule 23(b)(1)(B) must show that the fund is limited by more than the agreement of the parties, and has been allocated to claimants belonging within the class by a process addressing the conflicting interests of class members. Pp. 832-848.
(a) In drafting Rule 23(b), the Civil Rules Advisory Committee sought to catalogue in functional terms those recurrent life patterns which call for mass litigation through representative parties. RulePage: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007