Class Actions and Summary Judgment

Senior associate Sarah Whitmore and associates Ryan Lax and Jonathon Silver have contributed to LexisNexis’ Class Action Defence Quarterly, speaking about class actions and summary judgment.

In their article, Sarah, Ryan and Jonathon analyze class action summary judgment decisions, highlighting features that have worked and those that have faltered, as well as “discussing the implications of embracing innovative and hybrid procedures to resolves class actions.”

The trio examined class action judgments released since Hyrniak v. Maudlin, as well as a few before it, looking for patterns in case law. Their findings indicated there were specific contexts, which either contributed to the granting or dismissal of summary judgments for class actions.

Most often those contexts in which summary judgments were granted contained “an undisputed factual record or are contingent on a legal question that is not based on complex findings of fact or credibility.” On the other hand, those contexts in which they were dismissed often had “multiple competing versions of evidence.”

An excerpt from their conclusions is below.

As summary judgment becomes more common in class actions, counsel should assess the issues raised and determine whether they resemble those cases that have been found to be amenable to summary judgment.

However, Hyniak does not merely call for the increased use of the summary judgement procedure; the Supreme Court called for a “culture shift.” The decision was a call to the bar and bench to recognize new models of adjudication as fair and just: “[s]ummary judgement motions provide one such opportunity” for this culture shift.

Class actions provide the perfect context for innovation. Class actions are case managed by a judge that can “make any order [he or she] considers appropriate respecting the conduct of a class proceeding to ensure its fair and expeditious determination.”

Our team has provided more insight on class actions, which you can read on the practice page.

To discuss these issues, please contact the author(s).

This publication is a general discussion of certain legal and related developments and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require legal advice, we would be pleased to discuss the issues in this publication with you, in the context of your particular circumstances.

For permission to republish this or any other publication, contact Janelle Weed.

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