The genesis of the modern class action, the bill of peace, was developed by the Court of Chancery to facilitate the adjudication of disputes involving common questions and multiple parties in a single suit. In the United States, before 1938, class actions were available in the federal court for equitable relief when the action involved members of a class so large that it was impractical to join them. However, the 1938 adoption of original Rule 23 made the class action available for legal as well as equitable relief.
Federal Civil Procedure- Class Actions- Multiple Plaintiffs With Separate and Distinct Claims Must Each Satisfy the Jurisdictional Amount,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol8/iss3/7