Thomas D. Rowe, Jr.


Beyond the Class Action Rule: An Inventory of Statutory Possibilities to Improve the Federal Class Action

Thomas D. Rowe, Jr.

This Article surveys several areas in which legislation might enhance the utility of federal class actions. It does not suggest a statutory form of class action like statutory interpleader, but it takes initial inspiration from the interpleader statutes’ treatment of subjects beyond the joinder device itself—subject-matter jurisdiction, venue, personal jurisdiction, and antisuit injunctions. The matters on which legislation might be most useful are supplemental jurisdiction, to overrule the limiting holding of Zahn v. International Paper Co. with some possible parallel broadenings of supplemental jurisdiction for nonclass contexts; and authority to enjoin state-court proceedings that could substantially interfere with the conduct of a federal class action. The Article omits treatment of choice-of-law issues, which are the subject of another contribution to this Symposium. Beyond areas suggested by the interpleader statute, the Article discusses some issues of substance-specific procedural rules and the problems posed by global settlement funds. Aside from particular substantive fields such as securities-fraud litigation, federal legislation dealing with class actions does not seem likely for the present. While some statutory measures could be helpful, and others of a broader nature such as authorization or trial in addition to pretrial proceedings after transfer and consolidation could be useful in class as well as nonclass litigation, the main focus for any class action changes belongs on Rule 23 itself and not on legislation.