The IADC has submitted comments to the Mississippi Supreme Court opposing the proposed adoption of a class action procedure for the state’s court system.
The IADC opposes the measure on behalf of its members. A 2,500 member, invitation-only organization, the IADC is a leader in many areas of legal reform and professional development. Although Mississippi is exceptional in not allowing a Rule23-like class action, the IADC believes that adoption of the new rule would be detrimental to the Mississippi justice system, employers who choose to do business in the state, and the Mississippi economy.
“A state court class action procedure is not necessary for Mississippi state courts because the Mississippi federal courts already provide more than adequate opportunity for Mississippi citizens to pursue class actions,” said Stephanie M. Rippee, a member of the IADC’s Civil Justice Response, Product Liability and Business Litigation committees who was instrumental in crafting the IADC’s comments on amending Rule 23 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. “The federal statutes protect Mississippi citizens from any number of wrongful acts including age discrimination, racial discrimination, unfair lending practices, unfair credit reporting practices, inappropriate use of personal data, etc. It is difficult to imagine a wrong that would merit a class action that does not implicate a federal question of some sort.”
Rippee, who also is an attorney and Member at Watkins & Eager PLLC in Jackson, Miss., added that the IADC opposes the Mississippi class action rule because it believes that class actions, as a procedure, do not actually remedy the issues they are supposedly designed to address and are ripe for abuse.
“Advocating to add a state court class action procedure is the equivalent of advocating for an additional pathway to ensure that Mississippi businesses can be sued in state courts by lawyers – many from other states – who perceive the state courts as a more friendly forum for their claims,” Rippee explained. “This type of forum shopping is not an adequate basis to justify the implementation of state court Rule 23.”
In addition, the new class action procedure would further burden an already overtaxed court system, said Rippee, pointing out that in 2016, Mississippi’s 139 trial judges handled an average of 820 cases per trial judge – four times the average caseload of the better-staffed Mississippi federal courts. A new class action procedure would undoubtedly necessitate the hiring of more staff to handle the additional workload, requiring surplus financial resources that the court system currently lacks.
“Adding class actions, which require significant court intervention and can remain on court dockets for years, would significantly increase the already heavy burden placed on Mississippi state court judges,” Rippee said.
The Supreme Court’s Rules Committee on Civil Practice and Procedure set Oct. 2, 2017, as the deadline for interested parties to submit comments on the motion to amend Rule 23.
To read the comments submitted by the IADC, click here.