Rule 3.501 Class Actions

(A) Nature of Class Action.

(1) One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all members in a class action only if:

(a) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;

(b) there are questions of law or fact common to the members of the class that predominate over questions affecting only individual members;

(c) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class;

(d) the representative parties will fairly and adequately assert and protect the interests of the class; and

(e) the maintenance of the action as a class action will be superior to other available methods of adjudication in promoting the convenient administration of justice.

(2) In determining whether the maintenance of the action as a class action will be superior to other available methods of adjudication in promoting the convenient administration of justice, the court shall consider among other matters the following factors:

(a) whether the prosecution of separate actions by or against individual members of the class would create a risk of

(i) inconsistent or varying adjudications with respect to individual members of the class that would confront the party opposing the class with incompatible standards of conduct; or

(ii) adjudications with respect to individual members of the class that would as a practical matter be dispositive of the interests of other members not parties to the adjudications or substantially impair or impede their ability to protect their interests;

(b) whether final equitable or declaratory relief might be appropriate with respect to the class;

(c) whether the action will be manageable as a class action;

(d) whether in view of the complexity of the issues or the expense of litigation the separate claims of individual class members are insufficient in amount to support separate actions;

(e) whether it is probable that the amount which may be recovered by individual class members will be large enough in relation to the expense and effort of administering the action to justify a class action; and

(f) whether members of the class have a significant interest in controlling the prosecution or defense of separate actions.

(3) Class members shall have the right to be excluded from the action in the manner provided in this rule, subject to the authority of the court to order them made parties to the action pursuant to other applicable court rules.

(4) Class members have the right to intervene in the action, subject to the authority of the court to regulate the orderly course of the action.

(5) An action for a penalty or minimum amount of recovery without regard to actual damages imposed or authorized by statute may not be maintained as a class action unless the statute specifically authorizes its recovery in a class action.

(B) Procedure for Certification of Class Action.

(1) Motion.

(a) Within 91 days after the filing of a complaint that includes class action allegations, the plaintiff must move for certification that the action may be maintained as a class action.

(b) The time for filing the motion may be extended by order on stipulation of the parties or on motion for cause shown.

(2) Effect of Failure to File Motion. If the plaintiff fails to file a certification motion within the time allowed by subrule (B)(1), the defendant may file a notice of the failure. On the filing of such a notice, the class action allegations are deemed stricken, and the action continues by or against the named parties alone. The class action allegations may be reinstated only if the plaintiff shows that the failure was due to excusable neglect.

(3) Action by Court.

(a) Except on motion for good cause, the court shall not proceed with consideration of the motion to certify until service of the summons and complaint on all named defendants or until the expiration of any unserved summons under MCR 2.102(D).

(b) The court may allow the action to be maintained as a class action, may deny the motion, or may order that a ruling be postponed pending discovery or other preliminary procedures.

(c) In an order certifying a class action, the court shall set forth a description of the class.

(d) When appropriate the court may order that

(i) the action be maintained as a class action limited to particular issues or forms of relief, or

(ii) a proposed class be divided into separate classes with each treated as a class for purposes of certifying, denying certification, or revoking a certification.

(e) If certification is denied or revoked, the action shall continue by or against the named parties alone.

(C) Notice to Class Members.

(1) Notice Requirement. Notice shall be given as provided in this subrule to persons who are included in a class action by certification or amendment of a prior certification, and to persons who were included in a class action by a prior certification but who are to be excluded from the class by amendment or revocation of the certification.

(2) Proposals Regarding Notice. The plaintiff shall include in the motion for certification a proposal regarding notice covering the matters that must be determined by the court under subrule (C)(3). In lieu of such a proposal, the plaintiff may state reasons why a determination of these matters cannot then be made and offer a proposal as to when such a determination should be made. Such a proposal must also be included in a motion to revoke or amend certification.

(3) Action by Court. As soon as practicable, the court shall determine how, when, by whom, and to whom the notice shall be given; the content of the notice; and to whom the response to the notice is to be sent. The court may postpone the notice determination until after the parties have had an opportunity for discovery, which the court may limit to matters relevant to the notice determination.

(4) Manner of Giving Notice.

(a) Reasonable notice of the action shall be given to the class in such manner as the court directs.

(b) The court may require individual written notice to all members who can be identified with reasonable effort. In lieu of or in addition to individual notice, the court may require notice to be given through another method reasonably calculated to reach the members of the class. Such methods may include using publication in a newspaper or magazine; broadcasting on television or radio; posting; or distribution through a trade or professional association, union, or public interest group.

(c) In determining the manner of notice, the court shall consider, among other factors,

(i) the extent and nature of the class,

(ii) the relief requested,

(iii) the cost of notifying the members,

(iv) the resources of the plaintiff, and

(v) the possible prejudice to be suffered by members of the class or by others if notice is not received.

(5) Content of Notice. The notice shall include:

(a) a general description of the action, including the relief sought, and the names and addresses of the representative parties;

(b) a statement of the right of a member of the class to be excluded from the action by submitting an election to be excluded, including the manner and time for exercising the election;

(c) a description of possible financial consequences for the class;

(d) a general description of any counterclaim or notice of intent to assert a counterclaim by or against members of the class, including the relief sought;

(e) a statement that the judgment, whether favorable or not, will bind all members of the class who are not excluded from the action;

(f) a statement that any member of the class may intervene in the action;

(g) the address of counsel to whom inquiries may be directed; and

(h) other information the court deems appropriate.

(6) Cost of Notice.

(a) The plaintiff shall bear the expense of the notification required by subrule (C)(1). The court may require the defendant to cooperate in the notice process, but any additional costs incurred by the defendant in doing so shall be paid by the plaintiff.

(b) Upon termination of the action, the court may allow as taxable costs the expenses of notification incurred by the prevailing party.

(c) Subrules (C)(6)(a) and (b) shall not apply when a statute provides for a different allocation of the cost of notice in a particular class of actions.

(7) Additional Notices. In addition to the notice required by subrule (C)(1), during the course of the action the court may require that notice of any other matter be given in such manner as the court directs to some or all of the members of the class.

(D) Judgment.

(1) The judgment shall describe the parties bound.

(2) A judgment entered before certification of a class binds only the named parties.

(3) A motion for judgment (including partial judgment) under MCR 2.116 may be filed and decided before the decision on the question of class certification. A judgment entered before certification in favor of a named party does not preclude that party from representing the class in the action if that is otherwise appropriate.

(4) A complaint that does not include class action allegations may not be amended to include such allegations after the granting of judgment or partial judgment under MCR 2.116.

(5) A judgment entered in an action certified as a class action binds all members of the class who have not submitted an election to be excluded, except as otherwise directed by the court.

(E) Dismissal or Compromise. An action certified as a class action may not be dismissed or compromised without the approval of the court, and notice of the proposed dismissal or compromise shall be given to the class in such manner as the court directs.

(F) Statute of Limitations.

(1) The statute of limitations is tolled as to all persons within the class described in the complaint on the commencement of an action asserting a class action.

(2) The statute of limitations resumes running against class members other than representative parties and intervenors:

(a) on the filing of a notice of the plaintiff's failure to move for class certification under subrule (B)(2);

(b) 28 days after notice has been made under subrule (C)(1) of the entry, amendment, or revocation of an order of certification eliminating the person from the class;

(c) on entry of an order denying certification of the action as a class action;

(d) on submission of an election to be excluded;

(e) on final disposition of the action.

(3) If the circumstance that brought about the resumption of the running of the statute is superseded by a further order of the trial court, by reversal on appeal, or otherwise, the statute of limitations shall be deemed to have been tolled continuously from the commencement of the action.

(G) Discovery. Representative parties and intervenors are subject to discovery in the same manner as parties in other civil actions. Other class members are subject to discovery in the same manner as persons who are not parties, and may be required to submit to discovery procedures applicable to parties to the extent ordered by the court.

(H) Counterclaims.

(1) Right to File Counterclaims. A party to a class action may file counterclaims as in any other action, including counterclaims by or against a class or an individual class member.

(2) Notice of Intent to File Counterclaims. The defendant may file notice of intent to assert counterclaims against absent class members before notice of certification is given under subrule (C)(1), identifying or describing the persons against whom counterclaims may be filed and describing the nature of the counterclaims.

(3) Time to File. A counterclaim against a class member other than a representative party must be filed and served within 56 days after the class member intervenes or submits a claim for distribution of a share of any award recovered in the action, whichever is earlier, or within such further time as the court allows.

(4) Notice to Class Members. If the notice of certification given under subrule (C)(1) did not notify potential class members of the counterclaim, each class member against whom a counterclaim is asserted shall be permitted to elect to be excluded from the action. Notice of this right shall be served with the counterclaim.

(5) Control of Action. The court shall take such steps as are necessary to prevent the pendency of counterclaims from making the action unmanageable as a class action. Such steps include but are not limited to severing counterclaims for separate trial under MCR 2.505(B) or ordering that consideration of the counterclaims be deferred until after determination of the issue of the defendant's liability, at which time the court may hear the counterclaims, remove them to a lower court, change venue, dismiss them without prejudice, or take other appropriate action.

(I) Defendant Classes.

(1) An action that seeks to recover money from individual members of a defendant class may not be maintained as a class action.

(2) A representative of a defendant class, other than a public body or a public officer, may decline to defend the action in a representative capacity unless the court finds that the convenient administration of justice otherwise requires.