Last month’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a case against Hyundai struck a nerve with the class action bar because it brought to the surface a longstanding debate over how much is required to approve nationwide settlements when varying state laws are involved.

That debate has roiled for at least two decades, with proposals to change the civil rules and a raft of conflicting circuit court decisions failing to resolve the issue. The Ninth Circuit’s Jan. 23 opinion in In re Hyundai and Kia Fuel Economy Litigation muddied the waters further, imposing a strict set of requirements that alarmed lawyers on both sides—but mostly those in the plaintiffs bar.

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