In Mezyk v. U.S. Bank Pension Plan (Feb. 11, 2011), the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois certified a class of over 8,000 participants in U.S. Bancorp’s pension plan. The lawsuit raised six claims related to the operation of the plan following the enactment of several plan amendments. U.S. Bancorp opposed certification of several claims on the ground that the named plaintiffs were not adequate class representatives. U.S. Bancorp argued that the named plaintiffs sought to void the plan amendments and, therefore, their interests conflicted with those class members who would be worse off if the plan amendments were voided.
While the Mezyk Court did find that it was hypothetically possible that some putative class members’ interests could be opposed to voiding the plan amendments, the Court held that U.S. Bancorp had not substantiated its intraclass conflict argument because, at the certification hearing, it could not identify any class member who actually opposed voiding the plan amendments. Prior to granting class certification, the Court also altered the class definition to exclude from the class three individuals – two named plaintiffs and one putative class member – who had raised the same legal issues against U.S. Bancorp in the Eighth Circuit and had lost.