May 26, 2004
Mr. Thomas J. Murphy
Mr. Kelly M. Wills
Mr. David A. Hawkins
Re: Stavenjord v. Montana
After reviewing the stipulation and briefs in this case, I want further briefing regarding the existence of a common fund. In particular, I wonder if the benefitted claimants would constitute a certifiable class if the case had been brought as a class action. If not, then I wonder whether a common fund exists. Please provide me with simultaneous briefs as to whether the class of claimants benefitted by the decision constitute a certifiable class under class action principles. Then address whether a common fund can exist if the class would not be certifiable.
Recognizing that a class action analysis is difficult and will require time for research, analysis and writing, I will set the initial deadline for opening briefs as June 28, 2004, with reply briefs due July 16, 2004. If you need more time let me know.
I would also like to set oral argument concerning the common fund issue as I believe it will be helpful. To keep things moving, I am setting the argument on July 22, 2004 at 10:00 a.m. in Helena.