A lingering issue in class action law concerns the case or controversy requirement of Article III, otherwise known as the requirement of justiciability. For purposes of justiciability doctrines such as standing, mootness, and ripeness, is the class action brought by all class members, some class members, or just the class representative?
This Article argues that the answer should be none of the above-it should be the class attorney. This Article first shows that the function of the class action is to assign dispositive control of, and a partial beneficial interest in, the class members' claims to the class attorney. Put another way, the class action functionally creates a trust, with the class attorney as trustee of the claims for the benefit of the class. This Article argues that the creation of such a trust is essential for the categories of litigation in which class actions are permitted. But, in doing so, the class action also makes the class attorney the de facto real party in interest.
This Article then shows that the current law of justiciability provides some support for viewing the class attorney as the relevant party for Article III purposes. It shows, in particular, that current law permits a court to recognize the standing of a noninjured party like the class attorney when, as in all class action settings, such recognition is necessary to adequately protect the interests of those injured.
This Article concludes by exploring what lessons the trust function of the class action can provide for the law ofjusticiability. One central lesson of the trust function of the class action is that those who are initially assigned the right to bring a lawsuit, such as those who are personally injured, are not always adequate representatives of their own interests, let alone others. This Article uses this lesson to address the adequacy of representation concerns that underlie the law ofjusticiability. This Article ultimately argues that the law's insistence on a personal injury to satisfy justiciability requirements like standing is misplaced. Federal courts instead should focus on ensuring the adequate representation of all the interests affected by their exercise of jurisdiction.
Sergio J. Campos, Class Actions and Justiciability, 66 Fla. L. Rev. 553 (2014).