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

This CLE webinar 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?


Wystan M. Ackerman, Partner
Robinson & Cole, Hartford, Conn.

Mr. Ackerman is Chair of the firm's Class Action Team. He has defended major insurers across the country in class actions and has prevailed on dispositive motions in numerous cases. In addition to insurer representation, Mr. Ackerman has defended cases involving products liability, financial services, consumer contracts, and securities. He is a frequent author and lecturer on class action topics.

Karl Fanter, Partner
BakerHostetler, Cleveland

Mr. Fanter concentrates his practice on complex commercial litigation, with particular emphasis on class action defense and appeals. His experience includes being a member of a team representing a federally insured bank in a matter involving a novel banking product being offered to consumers. He represented the bank in five parallel putative nationwide class action lawsuits initially filed in federal courts, now consolidated into a single action. He also represented a senior government official in Iqbal v. Ashcroft, which involved challenges to detention policies after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The matter was litigated to the United States Supreme Court and resulted in a favorable defense ruling on pleading standards required to bring actions in federal court.

Robert J. Bonsignore, Trial Lawyer
Bonsignore, Las Vegas

Mr. Bonsignore limits his practice to complex litigation, class actions, and cases involving significant economic loss or public policy. His law firm concentrates in the practice areas of antitrust, business-to-business wrongs, consumer protection, catastrophic personal injury and Mass Tort litigation. Due to his decades long experience and proven track record in multi-district litigation, he has been integrally involved in the leadership of dozens of document intensive cases. He previously served as lead counsel in MDL 1735 In re WalMart Wage and Hour Litigation (largest wage and hour class in US history), presently serves as lead counsel in MDL 2566 In re TelexFree Securities Litigation (the largest Pyramid scheme case in US history) and is co-chair of a discovery committee in MDL 2311 In re Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation.


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Class Action Law Advisory Board

Thomas Allen


Reed Smith

Steve Berman


Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

Brian Boyle


O'Melveny & Myers

H. Douglas Hinson


Alston & Bird

Daniel R. Karon


Karon LLC

Robert S. Kitchenoff


Weinstein Kitchenoff & Asher

Neal R. Marder


Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Michael McCluggage


Eimer Stahl

W. Ray Persons


King & Spalding

William B. Rubenstein


Harvard Law School

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