Philly Court Stats Show Sharp Drop in Class Actions

The Philadelphia court system has seen a sharp drop in the number of class actions filed between 2005 and 2007, reports Charles Mapp Sr., the deputy civil administrator in the civil division of the First Judicial District today.

In 2005, 56 class actions were filed in the FJD. In 2006, there were 26 class actions. In 2007, there were 10.

The dramatic decline in the number of class actions filed in City Hall likely reflects the impact of a federal law, the 2005 Class Action Fairness Act. The law, which became effective in February 2005, created a new category of federal jurisdiction over diversity of citizenship class action complaints, including class actions with more than 100 class members, controversies that exceed $5 million and in which the citizenship of one member of the defendants is different from the citizenship of one member of the plaintiff class.

Many class actions filed in state courts are removed to federal court. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has the eighth-highest increase of diversity class action filings among federal district courts, according to an interim report from the a study being conducted by the Federal Judicial Center.

Since the CAFA regime started, FJD court officials expect that very few class actions will proceed in FJD. “It’s going to dry up,” said Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein, who has presided over two high-profile class action trials including Hummel v. Wal-Mart and Braun v. Wal-Mart, as well as Samuel-Bassett v. Kia Motors America Inc.

— Amaris Elliott-Engel, staff reporter

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