Managing Complex Class Litigation: Leveraging Bifurcation, Bellwether Trials, Joinder, Subclasses and Issue Classes

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

Conducted on Thursday, July 27, 2017

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will discuss the growing complexity of class action suits and the procedural tools available to litigants to assist in managing large and complex class claims. The program will discuss how the parties and courts are utilizing aggregation tools such as subclasses and joinder, bifurcation and bellwether trials to create efficient outcomes for the litigation.


Class action litigation is becoming increasingly more complex with respect to issues and large number of claimants. As a result, parties and courts are resorting to procedural and statutory tools to efficiently manage complex class litigation.

Plaintiffs potentially can create subclasses to address unique issues or resolve potential intra-class conflicts of interest. Counsel opposing certification need to be prepared to leverage the intra-class conflict as grounds for denial of certification, and to argue that subclasses render class treatment unmanageable.

Courts sometimes use issue certification and bifurcation to separate an issue that may be dispositive of the entire litigation. There are a number of other factors courts consider in determining whether issue certification and/or a separate trial on one or more issues is appropriate. Another potentially useful tool for complex class actions is the bellwether trial, as commonly used in mass tort claims.

Listen as our authoritative panel of class action litigators discusses how the parties and courts are utilizing case management tools such as subclasses, issue certification, bifurcation and bellwether trials to create efficient outcomes for large, complex class claims.



  1. Case Management Tools
    1. Subclasses, Rule 23(c)(5)
    2. Issue classes, Rule 23(c)(4)
    3. Joinder, Rule 42(a)
  2. Issue bifurcation, Rule 42(b)
    1. Bifurcation of certification and merits
    2. Bifurcation of liability and damages
  3. Bellwether trials


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • When would subclasses under Rule 23(c)(5) be appropriate?
  • When would issue classes under Rule 23(c)(4) be appropriate?
  • Under what circumstances should the parties seek bifurcation of either discovery or liability in class litigation?
  • What factors will courts consider in determining whether issue bifurcation or a separate trial on one or more issues is appropriate?
  • How are bellwether trials useful in managing large and complex class litigation?


Ackerman, Wystan
Wystan M. Ackerman

Robinson & Cole

Mr. Ackerman chairs the firm's Class Action Team and has a national class action defense practice. He has been...  |  Read More

Karl Fanter
Karl Fanter


Mr. Fanter concentrates his practice on complex commercial litigation, with particular emphasis on class action...  |  Read More

Bonsignore, Robert
Robert J. Bonsignore

Trial Lawyer

Mr. Bonsignore limits his practice to complex litigation, class actions, and cases involving significant economic loss...  |  Read More

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