Rule 23 Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules focused on settlement classes.

The Rule 23 Subcommittee of the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rules has recently announced that it is narrowing the scope of its focus regarding possible changes to Rule 23 (the federal class action rule). The Subcommittee is no longer pursuing possible rules changes regarding ascertainability, issue classes, cy pres awards, and Rule 68 “pick off” settlement offers.

Instead, it is focused on a range of issues having to do with class action settlements.  These include  “frontloading” of proposed settlements (i.e., giving the judge more information about the proposed settlement earlier on); content of the notice of proposed settlement to class members; regulating objectors to class action settlements; and clarifying that preliminary settlement approvals are not immediately appealable under Rule 23(f).

In addition, the Subcommittee appears to be poised to propose a rules change restoring discretion to district courts to order class noticed to be made by electronic means (email) in lieu of first-class  postage (“snail mail”), in appropriate cases.  If adopted, this would be a welcome (and overdue) update.

I have submitted an article on this topic to the ABA CADS (Class Actions) committee to be posted on their website, and will include a link to a copy of that article on the Article tab above once published.  Drew.