Column on amicus briefs supporting rehearing in Third Circuit class-action case

by Deepak Gupta

We've already blogged here quite a bit in the past few days about our rehearing petition in the Third Circuit class-action case of Carrerra v. Bayer — including this post on a recent column by Alison Frankel of Reuters. 

Today, Frankel has a new story about the case. This time, she writes about the amicus briefs. Specifically, she focuses on the fact that a neutral class-action claims adminsitrator, Angeion Group, filed a brief supporting the petition. It's unusual for a claims administrators to file a brief in any case because they treasure their reputation for neutrality. Frankel interviewed Angeion VP Steve Weisbrot to find out why this case was important enough to make an exception:

[P]ublic interest groups and law profs are frequent filers of amicus briefs. Claims administrators are not. So why did Angeion feel the need to poke its head up? It was to defend the expertise and best practices of its industry, Weisbrot told me, from an appellate ruling that, in Angeion’s view, disregarded claims administrators’ hard-won ability to discern between valid and invalid claims. . . . 

Angeion’s amicus brief argued that the 3rd Circuit panel was too quick to discount those screening processes. “Class action administrators have a wealth of expertise about how to ensure fair participation and valid claims without fraud and have been refining that expertise for a half century,” the brief said. “The panel wholly dismisses the ‘programmatic audits’ that are routinely, successfully used to identify duplicate and fraudulent claims by claims administration companies…. We employ proven algorithms in a rules-based processing technology that has been derived from the other industries such as the health care claim processing space. This enables us to further identify fraudulent claims based on a range of data and behavioral patterns.”

Angeion was careful to note that it is a neutral third party, but it’s also true that it is in the business of administering class action settlements. If classes can’t be certified, Angeion and its rivals don’t have claims to administer. The amicus brief warns that the 3rd Circuit standard “would result in no claims – that is, no class action at all…. That decision is not only unprecedented, but ignores the way things actually work in the real world. Requiring the parties to create and submit a detailed screening model for each particular case prior to class certification – instead of relying on known and proven claims administration industry standards generally – would be a burdensomely expensive and time consuming effort.”

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