Last week, I posted a short note about the Eighth Circuit’s decision in In re Baycol Products Litigation. Here is a more in-depth synopsis, thanks to fellow Baker & Hostetler partner Joe Ezzi:
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a district court order enjoining state court plaintiffs from pursuing a class action because the district court had already denied certification of an identical class in federal court. In re Baycol Products Litig., ___ F.3d ___ (8th Cir. January 5, 2010).
A state court putative class action was filed by George McCollins in West Virginia in 2001. Bayer removed the case and it became part of a multidistrict action consolidated before the district court in Minneapolis. Class certification was denied in the McCollins MDL class action, with the district court making certain legal conclusions concerning economic loss requirements under West Virginia law related to predominance. At the same time, a similar West Virginia state court class action was pending against Bayer, albeit with different putative class representatives. Following the district court’s denial of class certification, Bayer moved the district court to enjoin the plaintiffs in the West Virginia state court action from pursuing a class action because, as absent putative class members of the McCollins lawsuit, they could not relitigate the previous federal court decision denying certification of a West Virginia economic loss class. The district court granted Bayer’s request for an injunction under the All Writs Act.
The Eighth Circuit, in affirming the district court order enjoining the West Virginia state court class action, found that the West Virginia state court plaintiffs sought “certification on the same legal basis of the same class already denied in this case.” In re Baycol Products Litig., ___ F.3d ___ (8th Cir. January 5, 2010), slip op. at 6. Thus, “in the context of MDL proceedings, certification in a state court of the same class under the same legal theories previously rejected by the federal district court presents an issue sufficiently identical to warrant preclusion under federal common law.” Id. at 10. Further, relying on the Seventh Circuit decision in In re Bridgestone/Firestone, 333 F.3d 763 (2003), the Eighth Circuit noted that the putative class representative in the federal action was in privity with the state court class representatives for purposes of collateral estoppel based on allegations of adequacy of representation and because both putative class representatives asserted the same claims.