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Cordis v. Dunson

Groups of plaintiffs filed separate product liability lawsuits against medical device manufacturer Cordis Corp. in a California state court. Each lawsuit had fewer than 100 plaintiffs. The plaintiffs proposed that their cases be consolidated for pretrial purposes only, to be followed by a bellwether trial process. Cordis removed the cases to federal court, asserting that the cases had become a “mass action” under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) because the plaintiffs had proposed a joint trial of claims of 100 or more plaintiffs. The district court remanded the case to state court, and the Ninth Circuit granted leave to appeal and affirmed. It held that a bellwether trial proposal is not a proposal for joint trial unless the result of the bellwether trial would bind all the plaintiffs, and the plaintiffs here had not proposed such a bellwether procedure. Cordis filed a petition for certiorari contending that the ruling conflicted with statements by other courts of appeals that binding bellwether trials are joint trials. In the Supreme Court, Public Citizen joined as co-counsel for the plaintiffs opposing the petition. The Court denied the petition.