Opinion of the Court
bers, however, may be parties for some purposes and not for others. The label "party" does not indicate an absolute characteristic, but rather a conclusion about the applicability of various procedural rules that may differ based on context.
Nonnamed class members are, for instance, parties in the sense that the filing of an action on behalf of the class tolls a statute of limitations against them. See American Pipe & Constr. Co. v. Utah, 414 U. S. 538 (1974). Otherwise, all class members would be forced to intervene to preserve their claims, and one of the major goals of class action litigation— to simplify litigation involving a large number of class members with similar claims—would be defeated. The rule that nonnamed class members cannot defeat complete diversity is likewise justified by the goals of class action litigation. Ease of administration of class actions would be compromised by having to consider the citizenship of all class members, many of whom may even be unknown, in determining jurisdiction. See 7A C. Wright, A. Miller, & M. Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1755, pp. 63-64 (2d ed. 1986). Perhaps more importantly, considering all class members for these purposes would destroy diversity in almost all class actions. Nonnamed class members are, therefore, not parties in that respect.
What is most important to this case is that nonnamed class members are parties to the proceedings in the sense of being bound by the settlement. It is this feature of class action litigation that requires that class members be allowed to appeal the approval of a settlement when they have objected at the fairness hearing. To hold otherwise would deprive nonnamed class members of the power to preserve their own interests in a settlement that will ultimately bind them, despite their expressed objections before the trial court. Particularly in light of the fact that petitioner had no ability to opt out of the settlement, see Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 23(b)(1), appealing the approval of the settlement is petitioner's onlyPage: Index Previous 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007