The First DES Class Action Suit: Payton v. Abbott Laboratories


In Payton v. Abbott Laboratories, U.S. District Court Judge Walter J. Skinner recently granted class certification to an action brought by twenty-seven Massachusetts women against major manufacturers of DES.

This is the first case in which a judge has interpreted the requirements of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to allow women exposed in utero to DES to sue as a class to determine liability for their injuries.

Payton v. Abbott Laboratories: an analysis of the Massachusetts DES class action suit, American journal of law and medicine, NCBI PubMed PMID: 7468600, 1980 Summer.

  • This Note reviews the Payton certification in light of prior class action decisions involving DES and other types of claims, and of legal commentary on Rule 23.
  • This Note contends that Judge Skinner’s application of the Rule 23 requirements in Payton was procedurally correct, and recommends the class action device as an effective method for litigating such controversies.
  • Finally, this Note analyzes the implication of this landmark ruling for plaintiffs seeking class certification in DES suits and in suits presenting analogous factual situations.

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