Civil Procedure Keyed to Yeazell
AmChem Products, Inc. v. Windsor
In 1991, eight federal judges, experienced in the superintendence of asbestos cases, urged the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate in a single district all asbestos complaints then pending in federal courts. All such cases, filed, but not yet tried, were transferred to the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and were consolidated for pretrial proceedings. After the consolidation, attorneys for the Plaintiffs and Defendants began settlement negotiations, focusing on a way to settle claims for asbestos cases not yet in litigation. After settling existing claims, CCR, a consortium of Defendants and certain Plaintiffs’ lawyers launched this case, exclusively involving the Plaintiffs without already pending lawsuits. The class action presented was not intended to be litigated. Rather, the parties presented to the district court a complaint, an answer, a proposed settlement agreement and a joint motion for class certification all in a single day. One group of Plaintiffs in the complaint alleged that they had not yet manifested any asbestos-related condition, while all named Plaintiffs were designated as representatives of the class as a whole. Class members were to be bound by the settlement in perpetuity. In January of 1993, the district court certified the class. Objectors raised numerous challenges to the settlement. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the class could not meet the adequacy representation requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 23(a)(4).
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