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If counsel wishes to file a class action, but the named plaintiff’s claim appears time-barred, it may be possible to overcome this concern by deducting from the applicable limitations period the time that a prior class action was pending. This is because the filing of a prior class action complaint may have tolled the statute of limitations for all members of the putative class until class certification is denied.94

This section discusses the nuances and limits of this general rule, which the Supreme Court has addressed only in the context of whether a previously filed class action toll the limitation period for subsequent individual claims. The case law governing subsequent individual actions is of course important for counsel considering such actions, but it also provides important background information for understanding the case law on tolling as it applies to subsequent class actions, which is the primary focus of this section. Nevertheless, the two different contexts should be borne firmly in mind.


  • 94 {92} Crown, Cork, & Seal Co. v. Parker, 462 U.S. 345, 353–354, 103 S. Ct. 2392, 76 L. Ed. 2d 628 (1983) (extending the doctrine announced in American Pipe & Constr. Co. v. Utah, 414 U.S. 538, 94 S. Ct. 756, 38 L. Ed. 2d713 (1974), which tolled the statute of limitations for individuals intervening in the original suit, to individuals seeking to file their own lawsuits).