Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp., 527 U.S. 815, 25 (1999)

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

Opinion of the Court

of the bond is so distributed among the persons having claims which are secured thereby, it must necessarily result in a scramble for precedence in payment, and the amount of the bond may be paid to the favored, or to those first obtaining knowledge of the embezzlements"); Graves, supra, at 534, 101 So., at 190 ("The primary equity of the bill is the adjustment of claims and the equitable apportionment of a fund provided by law, which is insufficient to pay claimants in full"). The equity of the limitation is its necessity.

Second, the whole of the inadequate fund was to be devoted to the overwhelming claims. See, e. g., Dickinson, 197 F. 2d, at 979-980 (rejecting a challenge by holder of funds to the court's disposition of the entire fund); see also United States v. Butterworth-Judson Corp., 269 U. S. 504, 513 (1926) ("Here, the fund being less than the debts, the creditors are entitled to have all of it distributed among them according to their rights and priorities"). It went without saying that the defendant or estate or constructive trustee with the inadequate assets had no opportunity to benefit himself or claimants of lower priority by holding back on the amount distributed to the class. The limited fund cases thus ensured that the class as a whole was given the best deal; they did not give a defendant a better deal than seriatim litigation would have produced.

Third, the claimants identified by a common theory of recovery were treated equitably among themselves. The cases assume that the class will comprise everyone who might state a claim on a single or repeated set of facts, invoking a common theory of recovery, to be satisfied from the limited fund as the source of payment. Each of the people represented in Ross, for example, had comparable entitlement as a legatee under the testator's will. Those subject to representation in Dickinson had a common source of claims in the solicitation of funds by parties whose subsequent defalcation left them without their investment, while in Guffanti the individuals represented had each entrusted


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