Deposit Guar. Nat'l Bank of Jackson v. Roper,
445 U.S. 326 (1980)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Deposit Guar. Nat'l Bank of Jackson v. Roper, 445 U.S. 326 (1980)

Deposit Guaranty National Bank of Jackson v. Roper

No. 78-904

Argued October 2, 1979

Decided March 19, 1980

445 U.S. 326


Respondents, holders of credit cards issued by petitioner bank, sued petitioner for damages in Federal District Court, seeking to represent both their own interests and those of a class of similarly situated credit card customers. The complaint, based on the National Bank Act, alleged that usurious finance charges had been made against the accounts of respondents and the putative class. The District Court denied respondents' motion to certify the class, ruling that the circumstances did not meet all the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3). After the Court of Appeals denied respondents' motion for interlocutory appeal, petitioner tendered to each respondent the maximum amount that each could have recovered, but respondents refused to accept the tender. The District Court, over respondents' objections, then entered judgment in their favor on the basis of the tender and dismissed the action, the amount of the tender being deposited by petitioner in the court's registry. Respondents thereafter sought review of the class certification ruling, and the Court of Appeals concluded, inter alia, that the case had not been mooted by the entry of judgment in respondents' favor and reversed the adverse certification ruling.

Held: Neither petitioner's tender nor the District Court's entry of judgment in favor of respondents over their objections mooted their private case or controversy, and their individual interest in the litigation -- as distinguished from whatever may be their representative responsibilities to the putative class -- is sufficient to permit their appeal of the adverse certification ruling. Pp. 445 U. S. 331-340.

(a) In an appropriate case, appeal may be permitted from an adverse ruling collateral to the judgment on the merits at the behest of the party who has prevailed on the merits, so long as that party retains a stake in the appeal satisfying Art. III's case or controversy requirements. Here, neither the rejected tender nor the dismissal of the action over respondents' objections mooted their claim on the merits so long as they retained an economic interest in class certification. Pp. 445 U. S. 332-335.

(b) The denial of class certification is an example of a procedural ruling, collateral to the merits of a litigation, that is appealable after

Page 445 U. S. 327

the entry of final judgment. The denial of certification stands as an adjudication of one of the issues litigated. Respondents have asserted throughout this appellate litigation a continuing individual interest in the resolution of the class certification question in their desire to shift part of the costs of litigation to those who will share in its benefits if the class is certified and ultimately prevails. Thus, they are entitled to have this portion of the District Court's judgment reviewed. To deny the right to appeal simply because the defendant has sought to "buy off" the individual claims of the named plaintiffs would be contrary to sound judicial administration. Pp. 445 U. S. 336-340.

578 F. d 1106, affirmed.

BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, J., post, p. 445 U. S. 340, and STEVENS, J., post, p. 445 U. S. 342, filed concurring opinions. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 445 U. S. 344. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEWART, J., joined, post, p. 445 U. S. 344.

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