United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Civil Procedure — class actions — collateral estoppel
A court may certify a class, even though two previous courts have rejected certification of the same class in cases with a different class representative.
“We are left with the weak notion of ‘comity’ as requiring a court to pay respectful attention to the decision of another judge in a materially identical case, but no more than that even if it is a judge of the same court or a judge of a different court within the same judiciary. We emphasize, however, the qualification in ‘materially identical.’ Even two class actions involving the same class may differ materially, for example in the suitability of the class representative or the adequacy of class counsel, and where they do the judge in the second, or third, or nth class action is on his own. This is not such a case; nevertheless the district judge gave plausible reasons for her disagreement with the judges in the two previous Cook County dental cases. Can more be required? The defendants’ claim that she was bound by the decisions of the other judges just because those decisions preceded and were contrary to her decision has no basis in law and flouts the principle that a district court decision does not have precedential effect. Camreta v. Greene, 131 S. Ct. 2020, 2033 n. 7 (2011); Wirtz v. City of South Bend, 669 F.3d 860, 862-63 (7th Cir. 2012). The defendants would have such decisions treated not as mere precedents but as super-precedents that no court lacking appellate authority could question.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Lefkow, J., Posner, J.