Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp., 527 U.S. 815, 13 (1999)

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Cite as: 527 U. S. 815 (1999)

Opinion of the Court

at 534a-535a. The complaint pleaded personal injury claims against Fibreboard, and, as justification for class certification, relied on the shared necessity of ensuring insurance funds sufficient for compensation. Id., at 552a-569a. After Continental and Pacific had obtained leave to intervene as party-defendants, the District Court provisionally granted class certification, enjoined commencement of further separate litigation against Fibreboard by class members, and appointed a guardian ad litem to review the fairness of the settlement to the class members. See In re Asbestos Litigation, 90 F. 3d 963, 972 (CA5 1996).

As finally negotiated, the Global Settlement Agreement provided that in exchange for full releases from class members, Fibreboard, Continental, and Pacific would establish a trust to process and pay class members' asbestos personal injury and death claims. Claimants seeking compensation would be required to try to settle with the trust. If initial settlement attempts failed, claimants would have to proceed to mediation, arbitration, and a mandatory settlement conference. Only after exhausting that process could claimants go to court against the trust, subject to a limit of $500,000 per claim, with punitive damages and prejudgment interest barred. Claims resolved without litigation would be discharged over three years, while judgments would be paid out over a 5- to 10-year period. The Global Settlement Agreement also contained spendthrift provisions to conserve the trust, and provided for paying more serious claims first in the event of a shortfall in any given year. Id., at 973.

After an extensive campaign to give notice of the pending settlement to potential class members, the District Court allowed groups of objectors, including petitioners here, to intervene. After an 8-day fairness hearing, the District Court certified the class and approved the settlement as "fair, adequate, and reasonable" under Rule 23(e). Ahearn, 162 F. R. D., at 527. Satisfied that the requirements of Rule


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