Federal class actions today follow an opt-out model: absent an affirmative request to opt out, a class member is in the class. Supporters defend the opt-out model as necessary to ensure the viability of class actions and the efficacy of substantive law. Critics argue the opt-out model is a poor proxy for class-member consent and promotes overbroad and ill-defined classes; these critics favor an opt-in model. This bimodal debate—opt out vs. opt in—has obscured an overlooked middle ground that relies on litigant choice: Why not give the class the option to pursue certification on either an opt-out or an opt-in basis? This article explores such an opt-in option. It considers the effects of opt-in classes’ enhanced cohesiveness and representational character on the ease of class certification, the logistical challenges of opt-in mechanisms and the technological advances that can mitigate those challenges, the doctrinal feasibility of allowing an opt-in option, and the potential pitfalls the option presents. The article concludes that the opt-in option has positive potential, and it offers specific proposals for rulemakers to consider.
An Opt-In Option for Class Actions,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol115/iss2/1