Friday, April 2, 2010
Striking an Efficient Balance: Making Sense of Antitrust Standing in Class Action Certification Motions
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Kelly J. Bozanic, Pennsylvania State University - Dickinson School of Law makes the case for Striking an Efficient Balance: Making Sense of Antitrust Standing in Class Action Certification Motions.
ABSTRACT: Class actions are powerful litigation devices, especially in antitrust cases. Plaintiffs who otherwise would not have the economic incentive to pursue judicial redress are vested with status as equal players in the commercial marketplace. The aims of both the antitrust laws and Rule 23(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are served through class actions, yet class actions also bear the potential of negatively impacting the consuming public. This is so, because district court judges considering certification motions face seemingly contradictory standards when it comes to certifying an antitrust class. As a result, plaintiff classes are often given an unfair advantage in bargaining position through an improper grant of certification. This article clarifies the jurisprudential policies which animate Rule 23(b)(3) and § 4 of the Clayton Act for the purpose of understanding what is required of a district court judge in class action certification. This article contends that the district court judge is a fiduciary who must fairly preserve the bargaining positions of both parties. In so doing, the judge serves the greater population by ensuring the optimum level of antitrust enforcement, and thereby, the ultimate aim of the antitrust laws is upheld: protecting consumer welfare by ensuring a robustly competitive marketplace.