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Class Action Defense and Pre-Certification Motions for Summary Judgment: Minimizing the Likelihood of Certification

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, July 20, 2023

Recorded event now available

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This CLE webinar will discuss the questions of can and should a corporate defendant move for summary judgment before class certification, and if so, as to the claims of individual plaintiffs or class claims as a whole. The panel will also examine the relationship between discovery strategy and summary judgment strategy. Finally, the program will consider any risks if summary judgment is denied and possible advantages in narrowing the case or forcing plaintiffs to reveal weaknesses related to certification or merits.


Plaintiffs obtain class certification up to approximately 75 percent of the time, notwithstanding the defense bar's formidable talents and efforts and despite defense-favorable trends in the case law. With this reality in mind, defendants are now rethinking whether to move for summary judgment before certification is decided.

Historically, pre-certification summary judgment attempts were seen as potentially inefficient because even if successful, only the named plaintiffs would be bound. But, as recent cases demonstrate, winning summary judgment can end the case and close the chance for certification, causing defendants to reconsider. In some cases, futile claims can be eliminated and the ruling can dissuade others from filing.

Whether to seek summary judgment is integrally related to discovery strategy. Some defendants have concerns that bifurcation can be counterproductive in the long run. If the defense's summary judgment motion eliminates some claims before class certification, courts would consider only the viable claims for certification, which would affect settlement considerations. Forcing plaintiffs to respond to summary judgment may induce its own benefits.

Listen as this world class panel of class action defense attorneys discusses the benefits, risks, and rewards of moving for summary judgment before certification.



  1. Reasons defense bar is reassessing summary judgment before certification
  2. Importance of discovery strategy
  3. Setting goals and expectations for summary judgment
  4. Best practices


The panel will discuss these and other key issues:

  • Should a defendant move for summary judgment before certification as to the named plaintiffs' claims individually or as to all class claims?
  • Are there advantages even if the motion only narrows the case or forces plaintiffs to respond in an individualized way?
  • What kind of cases or issues are best suited for pre-certification summary judgment?
  • Should discovery be limited or bifurcated?
  • How does the court or the identity of plaintiffs' counsel affect the analysis?


Maatman, Gerald
Gerald L. Maatman, Jr.

Partner, Chair Workplace Class Action Group
Duane Morris

Mr. Maatman has nearly four decades of experience practicing law and has defended some of the most...  |  Read More

Riley, Jennifer
Jennifer A. Riley

Partner, Vice Chair Workplace Class Action Group
Duane Morris

Ms. Riley has defended companies faced with significant complex litigation matters for more than two decades. She...  |  Read More

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