West v. Randall
West v. RandallWest v. Randall (29 F. Cas. 718 (R.I. 1820) is one of the earliest class action lawsuit related cases in early United States federal case law
Case law
In law, case law is the set of reported judicial decisions of selected appellate courts and other courts of first instance which make new interpretations of the law and, therefore, can be cited as precedents in a process known as stare decisis...

. The decision was written by Justice Joseph Story
Joseph Story
Joseph Story was an American lawyer and jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1811 to 1845. He is most remembered today for his opinions in Martin v. Hunter's Lessee and The Amistad, along with his magisterial Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, first...

 while serving on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Maine* District of Massachusetts...


West v. Randall involved a dispute over the estate of William West, a Revolutionary War general from Rhode Island and party in the first U.S. Supreme Court decision West v. Barnes
West v. Barnes
West v. Barnes, 2 U.S. 401 , was the first United States Supreme Court decision and the earliest case calling for oral argument. Van Staphorst v. Maryland was docketed prior to West v. Barnes but settled before the Court heard the case: West was argued on August 2, 1791 and decided on August 3,...

(1791). According to the case, West died in 1814. In West v. Randall there was a dispute over who must be made parties to the lawsuit. The case is an important precedent because the modern class action lawsuit originated from equity actions such as this one where: "It is a general rule in equity, that all persons materially interested, either as plaintiffs or defendants in the subject matter of the bill ought to be made parties to the suit, however numerous they may be."
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