Complex Litigation: Multistate Actions


Linda S Mullenix

National Law Journal


Commentary and analysis of the problems relating to the prosecution and defense of nationwide, multistate class actions in federal and state courts. A multistate class action involves plaintiffs or defendants from more than one state and also may involve claims that arise from transactions related to more than one state. So-called nationwide class actions represent the largest version of the multistate class action, consisting of claimants in all fifty states. The multistate class action represents the intersection of federalism with a procedural mechanism that enables thousands of geographically dispersed claimants to unite in one civil action. When litigants seek to certify a multistate class action, these actions generate unique problems relating to jurisdiction, choice of law, predominance of common questions, superiority, and manageability of the class. The article surveys various court decisions and the mixed response of courts to the possibility of certifying and managing multistate class actions. In particular, the article focuses on the unique problems raised by nationwide mass tort cases, and the negative reaction of several federal circuit courts to certifying such massive litigations. Cases discussed include Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Shutts, Castano v. American Tobacco Co., In re Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, In re American Medical Systems, Walsh v. Ford Motor Co., In re Ford Motor Co. Vehicle Paint Litigation, and In re Ford Motor Co. Bronco I Products Liability Litigation.

Full Citation

Linda S. Mullenix, Complex Litigation: Multistate Actions, National Law Journal, Oct. 18, 1999, at B18.