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The Failed Superiority Experiment

Posted by on Monday, October 17, 2016 in Articles, Volume 69, Volume 69, Number 5.

The Failed Superiority Experiment


Federal law requires a class action be “superior to alternative methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy.” This superiority requirement has gone unstudied, despite existing for half a century. This Article undertakes a comprehensive review of the superiority case law. It reveals a jurisprudence riddled with inconsistency as courts adopt diametrically opposed interpretations of the requirement. Originally crafted to encourage predictable, consistent class action decisions, superiority has mutated over the years into a dangerous wild card—subjectively used to stymie aggregate litigation. The solution is not adding a new requirement to the already onerous rules for class certification. Instead, judges should rely on existing yet currently underutilized case management tools and abandon the failed superiority experiment.


Associate Professor, SUNY Buffalo Law School.