Section 6-5-641

Certification of classes.

(a) No class of civil litigants shall be certified or recognized by any court of the State of Alabama unless there shall have been compliance with the procedures for certification of the class set forth in this article.

(b) As soon as practicable after the commencement of an action in which claims or defenses are purported to be asserted on behalf of or against a class, or as soon as practicable after such assertions in an amended pleading, but in no event prior to the time allowed by law for each party (including, but not limited to, counterclaim, cross-claim, and third-party defendants) to file an answer or other pleading responsive to the complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, the court shall hold a conference among all named parties to the action for the purpose of establishing a schedule, in the same manner and to the same extent contemplated by Ala.R.Civ.P. 16, for any discovery in which the parties may wish to engage which is both (1) allowed by Ala.R.Civ.P. 26-37, and (2) germane to the issue of whether the requested class should or should not be certified. At this conference, the court may set a date for a hearing on the issue of class certification, but such hearing may not be set sooner than 90 days after the date on which the court issues its scheduling order pursuant to the conference unless a shorter time is agreed to by all parties.

(c) Upon motion of any party, the court shall, except for good cause shown and even then only if the interests of justice require that it not do so, stay all discovery directed solely to the merits of the claims or defenses in the action until the court shall have made its decision regarding certification of the class. In considering such a motion, the court shall consider whether any prejudice to the plaintiff exists because of the filing by the defendant of a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment prior to the court's decision regarding class certification.

(d) The court shall, on motion of any party, hold a full evidentiary hearing on class certification. The hearing shall be recorded, and all named parties to the action shall be given notice of the date, time, and place of the hearing by written notification given to the party's attorney (or if appearing pro se, to the party) no later than 60 days prior to the date set for the hearing. At the hearing, the parties shall be allowed to present, in the same manner as at trial, any admissible evidence in support of or in opposition to the certification of the class.

(e) When deciding whether a requested class is to be certified, the court shall determine, by employing a rigorous analysis, if the party or parties requesting class certification have proved its or their entitlement to class certification under Ala.R.Civ.P. 23. The burden of coming forward with such proof shall at all times be on the party or parties seeking certification, and if such proof shall not have been adduced, the court shall not order certification of the class. In making this determination, the court shall analyze all factors required by Ala.R.Civ.P. 23 for certification of a class and shall not order certification unless all such factors shall have been established. In announcing its determination, the court shall place in the record of the action a written order addressing all such factors and specifying the evidence, or lack of evidence, on which the court has based its decision with regard to whether each such factor has been established. In so doing, the court may treat a factor as having been established if all parties to the action have so stipulated on the record and if the court shall be satisfied that such factor could be proven to have been established.

(f) Nothing in this article shall affect, or be construed to affect, Ala.R.Civ.P. 12 or Ala.R.Civ.P. 56, including the provisions of Rule 56(f).

(Act 99-250, p. 329, §2.)