Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp., 527 U.S. 815, 17 (1999)

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

Opinion of the Court

petitioners call the class claims nonjusticiable under Article III, saying that this is a feigned action initiated by Fibre-board 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. Brief for Petitioners 44-50. Ordinarily, of course, this or any other Article III court 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 (1998). But the class certification issues are, as they were in Amchem, "logically antecedent" to Article III concerns, 521 U. S., at 612, and themselves pertain to statutory standing, which may properly be treated before Article III standing, see Steel Co., supra, at 92. Thus the issue about Rule 23 certification should be treated first, "mindful that [the Rule's] requirements must be interpreted in keeping with Article III constraints . . . ." Amchem, supra, at 612-613.

Petitioners also argue that the Fifth Circuit on remand disregarded Amchem in passing on the Rule 23(a) issues of commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation. Brief for Petitioners 13-22. We agree that in reinstating its affirmance of the District Court's certification decision, the Fifth Circuit fell short in its attention to Amchem's explanation of the governing legal standards. Two aspects in particular of the District Court's certification should have received more detailed treatment by the Court of Appeals. First, the District Court's enquiry into both commonality and typicality focused almost entirely on the terms of the settlement. See Ahearn, 162 F. R. D., at 524.12 Second, and more significantly, the District Court took no steps at the outset to ensure that the potentially conflicting interests of

12 In Amchem, the Court found that class members' shared exposure to asbestos was insufficient to meet the demanding predominance requirements of Rule 23(b)(3). 521 U. S., at 623-624. We left open the possibility, however, that such commonality might suffice for the purposes of Rule 23(a). Ibid.


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