Recent Developments: Louisiana Class Actions
Blaine G. LeCesne*
I. CASE LAW DEVELOPMENTS
The determination of whether a purported class action meets the
requirements for class certification under Louisiana’s class action
procedures has long been plagued by uncertainty, engendering
inconsistent certification rulings, misconstrued precedents, and
vague evidentiary standards for applying the class action
prerequisites. Class certification analysis has also been untethered
from any overarching policy directives concerning the appropriate
level of scrutiny to be applied or the presumed preference for class
certification when courts are confronted with close or complex
questions. In two recent cases, the Louisiana Supreme Court not
only brought much needed clarity to the class certification analysis
but also made clear that usage of this unconventional litigation
procedure should be judiciously authorized and limited to claims
that arise from a common cause or disaster in mass tort cases.
A. Price v. Martin
In Price v. Martin, the Louisiana Supreme Court granted
certiorari to review whether t he lower courts correctl y applied the
commonality requirement in certifying a class action filed on behalf
of a class of 4,600 property owners who allegedly suffered damages
resulting from the operations of a wood-treating facility.1 Plaintiffs
filed suit against various owners of the facility, which was primarily
engaged in the production of creosote-treated railroad ties.2
Plaintiffs named three different owners who operated the facility
over the 60-year period in question as defendants.3 The petition
alleged that each of these defendants engaged in environmentally
unsound practices, including failing to remediate spills at the
facility, failing to contain creosote drippings, runoff, and overflow at
the facility, and allowing neighboring residents to use trimmings
from treated wood for cooking and heating.4 According to plaintiffs,
Cop yright 2014, by BLAINE G. LECESNE.
* Donna and John Fraiche Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola
University College of Law; B.A., Columbia College; J.D., Columbia Law School.
1. Price v. Martin, 79 So. 3d 960 (La. 2011).
2. Id. at 964.
3. Id. The defendant–owners operated the facility at varying times between
1940 and 1999. Id.