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Unanimous Supreme Court limits successive class-actions outside of statutory period

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF] unanimously Monday that upon denial of class certification, a member of a class action suit may not commence a new class action on behalf of others beyond the time allowed by the applicable statute of limitations.

In China Agritech, Inc., v. Resh [docket], the court determined that a series of cases beginning with 1974's American Pipe & Construction Co. v. Utah [opinion] did not justify the tolling of the statute of limitations in a class action suit.

Resh sought to keep a class action suit against China Agritech alive, despite filing his suit after the applicable statute of limitations, based on the American Pipe court's determination that the filing of a defective class action suit stops the clock. Here, two prior defective suits of which Resh was not a member were filed within the statute of limitations period.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, joined by all members of the court with the exception of Justice Sotomayor, who wrote a separate concurring opinion, said, "There is little reason to allow plaintiffs who passed up opportunities to participate in the first (and second) round of class litigation to enter the fray several years after class proceedings first commenced."

The Ninth Circuit had allowed the suit to continue [opinion, PDF] despite the expiration of the limitations period based on the reasoning in American Pipe, and the Supreme Court reversed and remanded based on the judgment.

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