Volume 73, Number 4

October 1998

Full Faith and Credit to Settlements in Overlapping Class Actions: A Reply to Professors Kahan and Silberman

Geoffrey Miller

Professor Miller argues that there is a compelling case for a narrow, reading of the Ninth Circuit’s remand decision in Epstein v. MCA, Inc. (Matsushita II), such that the holding is neither as far-reaching nor as nefarious as Professors Kahan and Silberman suggest. In light of the extraordinary facts under which the litigation arose (and the court’s own limiting construction), Matsushita II should not be interpreted as opening up all class actions to collateral attack in a subsequent forum. Rather, the holding requires that, in order for collateral attack to be permissible. Class counsel in the initial forum must have been disabled from litigating the basis of the claim in the second forum and other indicia that class counsel did not fairly and adequately represent class members must be present. With this narrow interpretation, and existing procedures for avoiding interjurisdictional conflict, Matsushita II can be defended as a reasonable balance of tile costs of collateral attack and the benefits of deterring questionable settlements.