Supreme Court

A New Justice: Any Change For Class Actions?

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This week, Justice Gorsuch donned his black robes and began hearing arguments alongside his new colleagues on the Supreme Court.  With his elevation to the high court, Justice Gorsuch assumes many new responsibilities.  Some, of the lighter kind, include opening the door during conferences with his colleagues and assuming oversight of the Court’s cafeteria menu.  More serious responsibilities will include weighing in on important class action cases that will undoubtedly be heard by the Court in the future.

Despite his lengthy judicial record from having served a decade on the Tenth Circuit, there are relatively few clues regarding Justice Gorsuch’s approach to class actions.  While on the court of appeals, he participated in only a few class action cases, which is not surprising given that the Tenth Circuit has not been a hotbed of class actions.  His handful of class action opinions, however, evidences not only his gift with the pen but also a restrained, textual approach to Rule 23.  These characteristics are

Supreme Court Will Hear Class Action Waiver Cases

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Last week, the Supreme Court consolidated and agreed to hear three appeals of Circuit Court decisions concerning whether class action waivers contained in employment arbitration agreements infringe on employees’ rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.  According to the schedule currently in place, briefing on these cases will commence in late February 2017.  Unless a ninth Supreme Court justice is appointed, confirmed, and seated before oral argument in this consolidated appeal, the possibility of a 4-4 decision—and resulting preservation of the status quo–looms large. 

 

Spokeo Should Not Fall on Deaf Ears in Privacy Class Actions

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On the May morning that the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, I was among those who read the case as a bellwether. The Spokeo appeal addressed a long-festering issue about whether Congress may confer Article III standing upon a plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm (and therefore cannot otherwise invoke federal jurisdiction) by authorizing a private right of action based on a bare violation of a federal statute.  Spokeo is a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) case, but its standing issue infects many other statutory privacy cases. FCRA is part of a growing regime of statutes creating per-violation monetary penalties for consumers to pursue whenever a business strays from the particular statute’s procedural requirements. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) are examples of the federal regime, while California’s Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA) and Song-Beverly Act are two state

Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins and the No-Injury Class Action

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Class action practitioners have been closely watching Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, a case before the Supreme Court on appeal from the Ninth Circuit.  Spokeo presented the Court with the opportunity to decide whether a plaintiff may maintain a class action absent any injury other than the violation of a statutory right.

Supreme Court Permits Use of Statistical Evidence to Prove Classwide Liability, but Declines to Adopt Categorical Rule

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In Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, et al., the United States Supreme Court affirmed a judgment in favor of a class of Tyson employees, holding that averaged statistical analysis or so-called “representative evidence” presented by the class’s experts properly established classwide liability in the case.  The Court rejected, however, the requests of all parties and amici curiae to adopt a broad and categorical rule governing the use of representative and statistical evidence in class actions, stating that…

OMNICARE: Supreme Court Clarifies Whether Statements of Opinion by Companies and their Executives are Actionable under the Federal Securities Laws

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This week the Supreme Court resolved a split among federal appellate courts over whether a statement of opinion in a company’s registration statement can be actionable under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 if the speaker actually holds the stated opinion.  The high court ruled that such opinions are not actionable as an “untrue statement of material fact” simply because they turn out to be wrong.  But, taking another “midway position” on a divisive issue of securities class action litigation, the court left the door open…