In re School Asbestos Litigation

789 F.2d 996 (1986)

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In re School Asbestos Litigation

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
789 F.2d 996 (1986)

Facts

Numerous school districts (schools) (plaintiffs) sued various asbestos-related companies (companies) (defendants) to recover compensatory and punitive damages after the schools were forced to comply with federal regulation by testing and remediating the presence of asbestos in their buildings. The schools brought their claims against the companies on several theories of relief at a time when tens of thousands of asbestos-related personal-injury and property-damage claims were already pending against asbestos manufacturers in various contexts through the country. Upon the motion of some of the schools, the district court certified two conditional classes, including a mandatory class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(1)(B) on the punitive-damages claims and an opt-out class under Rule 23(b)(3) on the issue of compensatory damages. The district court determined that the opt-out class met the certification requirements of numerosity, typicality, commonality, and superiority because asbestos was estimated to be present in approximately 14,000 schools, the schools’ theories of liability were harmonious with those of the named school plaintiffs, the underlying issues of the claims were common to one another, the impact of the presence of asbestos was similar to each school, and proceeding as a class on at least some issues would be more cost-efficient than redundant individual litigation. Some schools and some companies appealed both the Rule 23(b)(1)(B) and Rule 23(b)(3) certifications.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Weis, J.)

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