October 20, 2014

Pleading the Class Case: Testing Class Allegations on the Pleadings After Comcast

Allegations are critical in any case, but especially in class actions, where stakes are high for defendants and plaintiffs must find a strong angle to proceed as a class. Seeking to avoid substantial liability, defendants often try to defeat class action allegations early in the lawsuit. Faegre Baker Daniels labor and employment attorney Andrew Murphy authored an article in the American Bar Association's (ABA) Business Law Today exploring the question of how early in a case defendants can challenge class allegations. The article was featured again in the September/October edition of GP Solo magazine as a "Best of ABA Sections" feature.

In the past, courts have considered the viability of class action allegations after plaintiffs have had the chance to gather evidence in discovery. Because class allegations often lack detail pre-discovery, many courts have given class allegations a pass on having to state a "plausible" claim for relief. The Supreme Court's March 2013 decision in Comcast v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct. 1426 (2012), however, may lead courts away from their reluctance to dismiss class allegations on the pleadings.

In the article, Murphy explains the Comcast decision and examines four different approaches to analyzing class action allegations. "Whatever its full meaning, Comcast…evidences an unmistakable trend in favor of raising the bar for obtaining class certification," Murphy says. "As time passes, more and more cases will likely deny class certification based on the principles set forth in Comcast."

An earlier version of this article appeared in the May 2014 issue of Business Law Today.
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