There is a growing movement in the federal courts to redress the grievances of groups, rather than individuals. This movement has resulted in an increasing number of class action suits which has necessitated the emergence of two parallel sets of procedural rules; one for class actions and the other for the traditional, individual suit.
A look at class action procedure as a whole discloses a host of peculiar procedural consequences that occur when adversaries enter into class action litigation. The rules differ from those in non-class actions in such areas as mootness, standing, exhaustion of administrative remedies, subject matter jurisdiction, adequacy of legal representation, attorney's fees, and the res judicata effect of the judgment. Unfortunately, however, the cases that interpret the rules shed little light on the underlying theory which is responsible for the differing procedural treatment of class action suits.
This article explores the strong divergence of procedure between class and individual actions to identify the goals that the courts are trying to attain in creating a separate class action procedure. The article concludes that we are seeing a movement towards a civil procedure that may better achieve the goals of the substantive law in redressing the grievances of groups, not individuals. The courts are embarked on a shift from a conception of litigation as dealing with differences between individuals to one that sees adjudication as adjusting the relation of groups to social institutions. The peculiar procedure applicable to class actions reflects the fact that a class action adjudicates the rights of a group, not an aggregation of individuals.
Allen R. Kamp, Civil Procedure in the Class Action Mode, 19 Wake Forest L. Rev. 401 (1983).