D.C. Circuit

Rule 23(c)(4) states that, “[w]hen appropriate, an action may be brought or maintained as a class action with respect to particular issues.”  But do classes under Rule 23(c)(4), otherwise known as “issue classes,” also need to satisfy the requirements of Rule 23(a) and (b)?  In Harris v. Medical Transportation Management, Inc., 2023 WL 4567258 (D.C. Cir. July 18, 2023), the D.C. Circuit confirmed that the answer is “yes.” 

Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Confirms That Issue Classes Must Satisfy the Requirements of Rule 23(a) and (b)

If a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound?  Philosophers disagree.  If a product contains a contaminant but no one gets sick, did it cause an injury?  Judges disagree.

In the 2000s, enterprising plaintiffs’ attorneys attempted to push the boundaries of existing tort law by arguing that plaintiffs are entitled to damages for defects even when they cause no physical injury.  These so-called “no-injury” theories of liability were largely rejected by courts.  E.g., Rivera v. Wyeth-Ayerst Lab’ys, 283 F.3d 315, 320–21 (5th Cir. 2002) (dismissing “no-injury products liability law suit”); Johnson v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., 2014 WL 4494284, at *7 (W.D. Wis. Sept. 12, 2014) (recognizing that in the “consumer product context, courts routinely find lack of standing where—while a product may have been defective in the hands of others—the individual plaintiffs did not suffer the defect and, therefore, suffered no injury”).

While these cases closed the door on “no-injury” product liability claims, they left open the possibility of other “no-injury” claims, such as claims that a manufacturing defect breached a warranty or constituted fraud.  E.g., Cole v. Gen. Motors Corp., 484 F.3d 717, 723 (5th Cir. 2007) (“Notably in this case, plaintiffs may bring claims under a contract theory based on the express and implied warranties they allege.”).

Whether and when “no-injury” claims are viable is a hotly debated question.  As more fully discussed below, courts disagree on whether a plaintiff who has purchased a contaminated or defective product—but who has successfully used the product for its intended purpose while suffering no physical injury—can maintain a claim.

Continue Reading A Closer Look: Does Purchasing a Defective or Contaminated Product Always Cause an Article III Injury?

Two federal appellate courts are set to address the circumstances under which a class that includes many uninjured class members may be certified. In the Ninth Circuit, the en banc court agreed to decide if a class that includes more than a de minimis number of uninjured class members can satisfy the predominance requirement of