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Seventh Circuit Adopts Third Circuit’s Requirement That Class Certification Order Specifically Define The Class And Describe Class Claims, Issues, And Defenses

April 9, 2012 10:09 AM | Posted by D. Matthew Allen | Print this page

In Ross v. RBS Citizens, N.A., 667 F.3d 900 (7th Cir. 2012), a Fair Labor Standards Act case, the Seventh Circuit adopted the Third Circuit’s analysis in Wachtel ex rel. Jesse v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of A., 453 F.3d 179 (3d Cir. 2004), with regard to how Rule 23(c)(1)(B) should be construed. Rule 23(c)(1)(B) was added to Rule 23 in 2003. It proves that an order certifying a class action must define the class and the class claims, issues, or defenses, and must appoint class counsel under Rule 23(g). Only the Third Circuit in Wachtel had construed this rule to date. The Wachtel court had ruled that a trial court certifying a class must define the class with precision and must list all the class issues to be tried in the certification order.

In Ross, the Seventh Circuit agreed with this analysis. In Wachtel, the district court had violated this standard by providing a partial list of issues to be tried. In Ross, the district court did not violate this standard. The court identified the two class issues to be tried. Although the defendant suggested several other issues that should have been identified in the certification order, the appellate court ruled that these were “merely issues of trial strategy or proof, rather than overall claims or issues necessitating resolution.”

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