In re: Modafinil Antitrust Litig. — civil / class action — reversal — Smith
Today a divided Third Circuit panel vacated a district court order certifying a class in a pharmaceutical antitrust suit, announcing a new framework for analyzing the size of the class (“numerosity”). The majority directed that the numerosity inquiry “should be particularly rigorous when the putative class consists of fewer than forty members.” It ruled that the district court erred by placing too much weight on the late stage of the proceeding, directing that on remand the court should not take into account the sunk costs of litigation nor the risk of delay if certification were denied. The majority also held that the district court failed to “fully” explore whether class members could just join instead. The panel unanimously rejected the class defendants’ predominance arguments.
Judge Rendell dissented vigorously from the majority’s numerosity analysis, beginning thus:
Today, the Majority concludes that the able District Court judge abused his discretion by purportedly focusing on a consideration that we have never—indeed, by my research, no court has ever—stated it should not consider. How can that be? Furthermore, how can it be that the Majority mischaracterizes the late stage of the proceedings as being the focus of Judge Goldberg’s ruling when his reasoning actually focuses on the considerations that our case law dictates it should? Also how can it be that in analyzing judicial economy district courts are prohibited from considering the stage of the proceedings? I am perplexed. I am similarly perplexed as to why the Majority is directing the District Court on remand to figure out whether joinder is practicable when the appellants have failed to make that case themselves. I therefore respectfully dissent from part III.A of the Majority’s opinion.
This was Rendell’s second major dissent in two weeks.
Joining Smith was Jordan, with Rendell dissenting in part. Arguing counsel were Bruce Gerstein of Garwin Gerstein for the appellees, and Rowan Wilson of Cravath Swaine and Douglas Baldridge of Venable for the appellants.
UPDATE: news coverage on PennRecord.com, describing the court’s ruling as “surprising,” here.
Carpenters Health & Welfare Fund v. Management Resource Sys. — civil / labor — reversal — McKee
The Third Circuit today reversed a district court order dismissing a suit challenging a company’s failure to make contributions to employee funds.
Joining McKee were Fisher and Greenaway. Arguing counsel were Stephen Holroyd of Jennings Sigmond for the appellants and Walter Zimolong III for the appellees.
In re: Asbestos Pros. Liab. Litig. — civil — reversal in part — Scirica
In 1999, the Supreme Court described asbestos litigation as “elephantine.” Over a decade and a half later, the elephant is still lumbering along.
A worker exposed to asbestos died of lung cancer, and his estate sued the corporation whose equipment contained the asbestos he had been exposed to. In a fact-bound ruling applying Indiana law, the Third Circuit today affirmed dismissal of claims related to some of the equipment but reversed dismissal of claims related to other equipment.
Joining Scirica were McKee and Ambro. Arguing counsel were Robert McVoy from Illinois and Christopher Conley from Georgia.