During its next term, the Supreme Court will consider whether class action defendants can end the cases against them simply by offering complete relief to individually named plaintiffs and offering nothing to the classes those plaintiffs purport to represent.
The legal issue involves the intersection of two Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, namely the effect that Rule 68—which allows defendants to serve offers of judgment on specified terms and requires plaintiffs to respond to them—has on Rule 23, which governs class actions. Some circuit courts have held that when a Rule 68 offer of judgment offers a plaintiff all the relief available to him, he can have no further interest in litigation and his legal claims are moot. In the class action context, at least one circuit has further held that when a defendant makes a complete offer of judgment under Rule 68 before the plaintiff has moved for class certification, the plaintiff can have no interest in representing the class. Under this analysis, the plaintiff’s class claims are moot in addition to his or her individual claims.