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5th Circ. Ruling Amplifies Bristol-Myers Class Action Debate

April 2020 - Law360
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s recent decision in Cruson v. Jackson National Life Insurance Co. deepens the emerging divide among the federal appellate courts that have recently addressed the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 personal jurisdiction decision, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California and its impact on class action litigation. Earlier in the month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit became the first courts to address whether Bristol-Myers effectively bars nationwide class actions when absent class members would be otherwise unable to establish personal jurisdiction over their claims against a defendant. The D.C. Circuit's decision in Molock v. Whole Foods Market Group Inc. and the Seventh Circuit's decision in Mussat v. IQVIA Inc., unfortunately, raised as many questions as they answered. The same could be said about Cruson, but the Fifth Circuit’s reasoning — much of which aligns with the D.C. Circuit — provides helpful guidance for when and how litigants should raise the personal jurisdiction issue in class actions.

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