Chavez v. Plan Benefit Services, Inc., No. 19-50904 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
A district court must engage in a "rigorous analysis" when it certifies a class action. Plaintiffs filed suit against FBG under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), alleging that FBG has acted as a fiduciary and breached its duties.
The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's certification order, because the district court failed to engage in a rigorous analysis when it certified the class. The court held that the district court analyzed Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 superficially, because the district court's order did not identify the common question with any specificity. Having defined the question vaguely, the district court then analyzed it conclusionally and there is no reference to ERISA. Furthermore, the district court did not explain why clarifying FBG's status as a fiduciary will in one stroke resolve an issue that is central to the claims of each one of the class members, and the order neglected to consider asserted differences among class members that could prevent the suit from generating "common answers apt to drive the resolution of the litigation." Likewise, the district court's analysis of class type was insufficient.