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March 28th, 2013

Good News on Class Actions, Hoping for More

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday delivered good news for those of us nauseated by self-serving promulgators of meritless class actions, and the high court is considering whether to hear still another important appeal that could further rein in class action abuse.

An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal applauds the SCOTUS’s reaffirmation of  reasonable criteria, established with its 2011 precedent in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, et al., for judging whether members of a proposed class share sufficient “commonality” of facts and circumstances to be “certified” as a class.

With its decision in Comcast v. Behrend, the high court reminded lower courts that, per Wal-Mart, they “may have to ‘probe behind the pleadings before coming to rest on the certification question,’ and [a] certification is proper only if ‘the trial court is satisfied, after a rigorous analysis, that [Rule23’s] prerequisites . . . have been satisfied.'”

The SCOTUS went on to say that the “Third Circuit ran afoul of this Court’s precedents when it refused to entertain arguments against respondents’ damages model that bore on the propriety of class certification simply because they would also be pertinent to the merits determination.”

The Journal editorial also urges the Justices to hear a related appeal in a case known as Whirlpool v. Glazer.  ATRA seconds the Journal’s motion, hoping the SCOTUS will take the case and ultimately overturn the Sixth Circuit’s upholding of a trial court’s certification of a massive class of washing machine buyers, more than 97% of whom are perfectly happy with their purchases.

The Journals says “the [Supreme Court] Justices should make it clear they expect other federal courts to honor . . . precedents” and “should keep taking cases and overturning heedless junior courts until [those courts] get the message.”

Hear, hear!

 

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