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Miscellaneous Statutes

(a)  One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all only if:

(1)  The class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;

(2)  There are questions of law or fact common to the class;

(3)  The claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and

(4)  The representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

(b)  An action may be maintained as a class action if the prerequisites of subsection (a) of this Code section are satisfied, and, in addition:

(1)  The prosecution of separate actions by or against individual members of the class would create a risk of:

(A)  Inconsistent or varying adjudications with respect to individual members of the class which would establish incompatible standards of conduct for the party opposing the class; or

(B)  Adjudications with respect to individual members of the class which would as a practical matter be dispositive of the interests of the other members not parties to the adjudications or substantially impair or impede their ability to protect their interests;

(2)  The party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class, thereby making appropriate final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief with respect to the class as a whole; or

(3)  The court finds that the questions of law or fact common to the members of the class predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy.  The matters pertinent to the findings include:

(A)  The interest of members of the class in individually controlling the prosecution or defense of separate actions;

(B)  The extent and nature of any litigation concerning the controversy already commenced by or against members of the class;

(C)  The desirability or undesirability of concentrating the litigation of the claims in the particular forum; and

(D)  The difficulties likely to be encountered in the management of a class action.

(c)

(1)  As soon as practicable after the commencement of an action brought as a class action, the court shall determine by order whether it is to be so maintained.  An order under this subsection may be conditional, and may be altered or amended before the decision on the merits.

(2)  In any class action maintained under paragraph (3) of subsection (b) of this Code section, the court shall direct to the members of the class the best notice practicable under the circumstances, including individual notice to all members who can be identified through reasonable effort.  The notice shall advise each member that:

(A) The court will exclude the member from the class if the member so requests by a specified date;

(B) The judgment, whether favorable or not, will include all members who do not request exclusion; and

(C) Any member who does not request exclusion may, if the member desires, enter an appearance through counsel.

(3)  The judgment in an action maintained as a class action under paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection (b) of this Code section, whether or not favorable to the class, shall include and describe those whom the court finds to be members of the class.  The judgment in an action maintained as a class action under paragraph (3) of subsection (b) of this Code section, whether or not favorable to the class, shall include and specify or describe those to whom the notice provided in paragraph (2) of subsection (b) of this Code section was directed, and who have not requested exclusion, and whom the court finds to be members of the class.

(4)  When appropriate:

(A)  An action may be brought or maintained as a class action with respect to particular issues; or

(B)  A class may be divided into subclasses and each subclass treated as a class, and the provisions of this rule shall then be construed and applied accordingly.

(d)  In the conduct of actions to which this rule applies, the court may make appropriate orders:

(1)  Determining the course of proceedings or prescribing measures to prevent undue repetition or complication in the presentation of evidence or argument;

(2)  Requiring, for the protection of the members of the class or otherwise for the fair conduct of the action, that notice be given in such manner as the court may direct to some or all of the members of any step in the action, or of the proposed extent of the judgment, or of the opportunity of members to signify whether they consider the representation fair and adequate, to intervene and present claims or defenses, or otherwise to come into the action;

(3)  Imposing conditions on the representative parties or on intervenors; and

(4)  Requiring that the pleadings be amended to eliminate therefrom allegations as to representation of absent persons, and that the action proceed accordingly.

The orders may be combined with other orders, and may be altered or amended by the court as may be desirable from time to time.

(e)  A class action shall not be dismissed or compromised without the approval of the court, and notice of the proposed dismissal or compromise shall be given to all members of the class in such manner as the court directs.

(f)

(1)  After the commencement of an action in which claims or defenses are purported to be asserted on behalf of or against a class, the court shall hold a conference among all named parties to the action for the purpose of establishing a schedule for any discovery germane to the issue of whether the requested class should or should not be certified. At this conference, the court shall set a date for a hearing on the issue of class certification. Except for good cause shown, such hearing may not be set sooner than 90 days nor later than 180 days after the date on which the court issues its scheduling order pursuant to the conference. If evidence is presented by affidavit, the parties shall have an opportunity to cross-examine affiants as to such testimony offered by affidavit.

(2)  Except for good cause shown, the court shall stay all discovery directed solely to the merits of the claims or defenses in the action until the court has issued its written decision regarding certification of the class.

(3)  When deciding whether a requested class is to be certified, the court shall enter a written order addressing whether the factors required by this Code section for certification of a class have been met and specifying the findings of fact and conclusions of law on which the court has based its decision with regard to whether each such factor has been established.  In so doing, the court may treat a factor as having been established if all parties to the action have so stipulated on the record.

(4)  Nothing in this Code section shall affect, or be construed to affect, any provision of Code Section 9-11-12 or Code Section 9-11-56.

(g)  A court’s order certifying a class or refusing to certify a class shall be appealable in the same manner as a final order to the appellate court which would otherwise have jurisdiction over the appeal from a final order in the action.  The appellate courts shall expedite resolution of any appeals taken under this Code section.  Such appeal may only be filed within 30 days of the order certifying or refusing to certify the class.  During the pendency of any such appeal, the action in the trial court shall be stayed in all respects.

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