Friday, November 11, 2005

Class Actions Conference Underway in Washington, D.C.

I am currently attending the class action conference sponsored by the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section entitled "The Future of Class Action Litigation in America." The event is quite informative and has included presentations from judges, practitioners, and law professors. The Class Action Fairness Act has been a major topic of discussion here, with speakers providing various perspectives on the legislation and how it will impact class action litigation.

One prominent theme has been the enormous burden that CAFA's new "Frankenstein" notice provisions (requiring relevant governmental officials to be notified of proposed settlements) have placed on class action litigants. The jurisdictional issues that CAFA has brought about (when is "commencement"; who are "citizens" under CAFA; who is a "primary" defendant," etc.) are also being discussed, although one Professor thought that these were typical matters that accompany a major shift to a new legal regime that would eventually go away. Overall, most seemed resigned to the fact that class action practice would shift to the federal courts and that the federal judiciary needed more resourses and support to handle the increased burden. One practitioner predicted that pushing cases into federal court would lead plaintiff's lawyers to experiment more with pleading federal question cases (if they will be in federal court anyway under CAFA).

The conference concludes early this afternoon.


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