Rule 42 Class Actions: Recent Developments

July 11, 2001

Introduction
This paper addresses the requirements and evidentiary considerations of class actions under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 42, and focuses on developments in the area of Texas class actions in the recent Texas Supreme Court opinions.  Although the specific requirements of class actions have not changed over the years, recent opinions from the Texas Supreme Court have greatly changed the interpretation of Rule 42.  These changes have affected not only the procedural requirements of class certification, but have reduced the number of class certifications primarily in personal injury and some property damages cases.
 
Beginning in 2000, the Texas Supreme Court has announced several class action decisions addressing a broad spectrum of class certification and appellate issues:

  • Intratex Gas Co. v. Beeson set out the parameters for avoiding a “fail safe” class definition.
     
  • Southwestern Refining Co., Inc. v. Bernal refined the predominance requirement under Rule 42(b)(3).
     
  • Ford Motor Co. v. Sheldon revisited and applied the holding in Intratex Gas regarding the requirements of a class definition.
     
  • Wagner & Brown, Ltd. v. Horwood, a dissent from the denial of the petition for review, examined the minority justices’ belief that a split among the courts of appeals exists as to the interpretation of Rule 42(b)(1)(A).
     
  • Bally Total Fitness Corp. v. Jackson addressed the requirements of an interlocutory appeal under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 51.014(a)(3), which provides appellate jurisdiction when challenging certain class certification orders.
     
  • M.D. Anderson Cancer Center v. Novak examined the issue of standing in the context of a case involving both individual and class action claims.

These cases and the issues they examine are discussed in the sections that follow.

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