Overturning prior precedent, the Ninth Circuit holds that the filing of a class action tolls the statute of limitations for a later class action alleging similar claims. This decision holds that a string of US Supreme Court cases dealing with other class action issues has effectively overruled Robbin v. Fluor Corp. (9th Cir. 1987) 835 F.2d 213; Korwek v. Hunt (2d Cir. 1987) 827 F.2d 874 and a string of similar cases which had held that while the filing of prior class action will toll statute of limitations for later filed individual action, it does not toll limitations period for later filed class actions alleging same class and same cause of action. Each class member could individually take advantage of American Pipe tolling based on the prior class action; class members could sue individually and then coordinate or consolidate their actions, also taking advantage of American Pipe tolling. There is nothing in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 that bars plaintiffs who individually hold non-time-barred claims from bringing a class action on behalf similarly situated persons. Allowing tolling for follow-on class actions promotes the policies that led the Supreme Court to uphold American Pipe tolling in the first instance. The first class action puts the defendant on notice of the claims and the scope of the class of plaintiffs bringing it. And allowing follow-on class actions promotes judicial efficiency by discouraging the filing of duplicative, protective class actions.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Fletcher, W., J.); May 24, 2017; 2017 WL 2261024