Over the past twenty years the Supreme Court of the United States has systematically limited the scope of federal class actions brought under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Importantly, in two landmark decisions, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes and Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, the Supreme Court cemented a heightened level of inquiry demanded by Rule 23, a stringent, “rigorous analysis.”
This Note analyses the effects of this heightened inquiry on federal antitrust class actions, particularly in situations where the plaintiffs’ method of proving antitrust injury fails to do so for some of the putative class members. After the Introduction, Part II of this Note provides a brief overview of federal antitrust law and federal class action law, covering the goals and policies of each. Part III discusses the doctrinal effects of the landmark Supreme Court decisions in Wal-Mart and Comcast. Part IV outlines the two standards applied by federal courts in the pre-Wal-Mart era to assess whether an antitrust plaintiff’s method of proving injury met the requirements of Rule 23(b)(3). Part V of this Note analyzes these two standards and argues that the less stringent one did not survive the Supreme Court’s new post-Wal-Mart “rigorous analysis.” Part V then assesses the current state of a de minimis exception to the more stringent standard, analyzing the post-Wal-Mart federal appellate decisions discussing the exception. Finally, Part VI of this Note concludes and proposes a framework for assessing proof of class-wide antitrust injury to accompany the Supreme Court’s new more exacting class certification standards.