SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
OCTOBER TERM, 2001
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fourth circuit
No. 01-417. Argued March 26, 2002—Decided June 10, 2002
Petitioner retiree participates in a defined benefits pension plan (Plan) that was amended in 1991 to add a cost of living increase (COLA). Because the Plan could not support such a large benefits increase, its trustees ultimately eliminated the COLA in 1997 and filed a class action in the Maryland Federal District Court, seeking a declaratory judgment that the 1997 amendment was binding on all Plan members or that the 1991 COLA was void. Petitioner's separate challenge to the 1997 amendment was dismissed by a New York Federal District Court, which found that the Maryland court should resolve the matter. By this time, the Maryland court had already conditionally certified a class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(1). After the trustees asked the court to approve their settlement with the class representatives, petitioner moved to intervene. The District Court denied his motion as untimely. It then heard objections to the settlement, including those advanced by petitioner, and approved the settlement. Petitioner appealed. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court's denial of intervention and held that, because petitioner was not a named class representative and because he had been properly denied the right to intervene, he lacked standing to challenge the settlement.
Held: Nonnamed class members like petitioner who have objected in a timely manner to approval of a settlement at a fairness hearing have the power to bring an appeal without first intervening. Pp. 6-14.
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