Headline: Ninth Circuit panel holds FRCP Rule 23 does not require named plaintiffs to proffer an administratively feasible way to identify class members as a prerequisite for class certification.
Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Class Actions
Issues Presented: Whether class representatives must demonstrate there is an “administratively feasible” means of identifying absentee class members to a class action lawsuit under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) Rule 23.
Brief Summary: Plaintiff-Appellee Robert Briseno, the named plaintiff in a class action complaint, along with other class members, sued Defendant-Appellant ConAgra Foods, Inc. (“ConAgra”) for state-law claims for damages arising from an alleged misrepresentation on Wesson cooking oil products that it sold and marketed as 100% natural. The district court certified the class action as a 23(b)(3) class and ConAgra timely appealed under FRCP Rule 23(f). ConAgra contended the class should not have been certified as a class action because class representatives did not demonstrate an administratively feasible way to identify other class members, defined as those who had purchased Wesson cooking products within the class period. A panel for the Ninth Circuit reviewed the text of FRCP Rule 23 and concluded that a showing of administrative feasibility is not a prerequisite for class certification under Rule 23(a). Accordingly, the panel joined the Sixth, Seventh and Eight Circuits in rejecting the Third Circuit’s recognition of an administrative feasibility requirement, holding that the Third Circuit’s policy concerns are addressed by the enumerated requirements within the rule itself and that the drafters and the Supreme Court did not intend for courts to add requirements to be assessed a vacuum.