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Madison v. Chalmette Refining, L.L.C.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
637 F.3d 551 (2011)


A number of students, supervised by parents and teachers, participated in a historical reenactment at the Chalmette National Battlefield, which was adjacent to the Chalmette Refinery. That afternoon, petroleum coke dust was released from the refinery and allegedly traveled over the battlefield. Five attendees or parents of attendees at the reenactment (plaintiffs) sued Chalmette Refining, L.L.C. (Chalmette) (defendant), seeking damages for, inter alia, personal injury, pain and suffering, psychological harm, evacuation, economic losses, and property losses. Plaintiffs sought class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 23(b)(3), seeking to represent all injured persons who had been at the battlefield at the time of the incident. As part of discovery regarding certification, Chalmette deposed the named representatives. The plaintiffs conducted no discovery. More than two years later, the court held a certification hearing at which no evidence was introduced. The court orally granted certification after the hearing. Approximately two months later, the court issued a written order on its decision, stating that the predominant issue was whether class members were at the battlefield or not and exposed or not. The court further stated that any individual issues relating to damages could be reserved for resolution on an individualized basis. In support of its decision, the court cited two cases in which certification had been granted. Chalmette appealed pursuant to FRCP 23(f), which authorizes interlocutory appeals of class-certification decisions.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Clement, J.)

Concurrence (Dennis, J.)

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