- Home lab butane cannabis fatality: “The Hash Oil contributory negligence lawsuit you’ve all been waiting for” [Elie Mystal, Above the Law]
- With Sheldon Silver out of the speaker’s chair, New York has better chance at reducing sky-high litigation costs [Manhattan Institute, earlier on scaffold law]
- Per Norton Rose Fulbright annual business survey, responding companies more than twice as likely to be facing five or more lawsuits if based in U.S. than if based elsewhere [Norton Rose Fulbright, Bob Dorigo Jones]
- “Hearing: H.R. 1927, the “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015″ [April House Judiciary Committee with John Beisner, Mark Behrens, Alexandra Lahav, Andrew Trask]
- Legal outlook for Illinois defendants deteriorates as Madison County sees resurgence in suits and Cook County remains itself [ICJL]
- Brown v. Nucor Corp.: did Fourth Circuit just try to gut Wal-Mart v. Dukes rules against combining bias plaintiffs in dissimilar situations into class action? [Hans Bader/Examiner, Derek Stikeleather/Maryland Appellate Blog]
- No wonder New York City consolidation trials are so popular with asbestos lawyers if they yield average of $24 million per plaintiff [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine] Information in eye-opening Garlock asbestos bankruptcy (allegations of perjury, witness-coaching, etc.) now unsealed and online [same, earlier]
- Defend yourself in the press against an employee’s litigation publicity, and you’ve “retaliated”? If you say so, Your Honor [Jon Hyman]
- Hijab-wearing applicant never informed Abercrombie she needed religious accommodation of Look Policy; 10th Circuit reverses EEOC win [Wolters Kluwer, EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch]
- What, no more drop-ins from other states? “Gov. Jerry Brown signs athlete workers’ comp bill” [L.A. Times, background]
- ProPublica on supposed decline and fall of employment class actions after Wal-Mart v. Dukes [Ted Frank, my take]
- How many online readers need to follow OFCCP press releases on federal-contractor law but have so little fluency in English that they require a version in Hmong, Lao, Tagalog, or Urdu? [Department of Labor]
- What happened to the carpal tunnel epidemic? The condition itself didn’t go away [Freakonomics via Ira Stoll]
- Gail Heriot on affirmative action at Cato Constitution Day [video]
Maybe the loose talk about the Supreme Court having done away with company-wide class actions in Wal-Mart v. Dukes was just so much loose talk. I explain at Cato at Liberty.
For many years, under a widespread interpretation of a 1974 Supreme Court case called Eisen v. Carlisle & Jacquelin, many courts believed that in deciding whether to certify a lawsuit as a class action they were not authorized to look ahead to the suit’s merits, even if the evidence at hand suggested those merits to be fatally flawed. In its landmark decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, however, the Court made clear that determining whether the prerequisites for class handling have been satisfied will frequently call on courts to consider and resolve questions that overlap the merits. But the exact application of Dukes has yet to be worked out, and lower courts are generating inconsistent results.
The Court has agreed to take up these questions again in a case called Comcast v. Behrend. The Third Circuit, considering an antitrust case challenging Comcast’s business practices in communities around Philadelphia as anticompetitive, upheld certification despite Comcast’s argument that some members of the plaintiff class could not have suffered injury; in particular, it rejected Comcast’s argument that the judge should subject the views of the plaintiff’s expert on damages to Daubert scrutiny to determine whether those views were based on principles accepted by the relevant scientific community.
urging the Court to clarify that what it meant in Dukes was that a full inquiry into the reliability and admissibility of expert testimony (a so-called Daubert inquiry) is required at the class-certification stage. A lower standard would obviously prejudice defendants because class certification “magnifies and strengthens the number of unmeritorious claims” and creates “insurmountable pressure on defendants to settle.” But it would also prejudice absent class members because certification based on inadmissible evidence may distort their perception of the likelihood of success and encourage the members to stay in the class. Since all class members who don’t opt out of the class are ultimately bound by a class action judgment, there’s a large potential for harm to these potentially valid claims as well.
For more background on the facts and legal implications of Comcast v. Behrend, see the Philadelphia Inquirer’s coverage, Paul Karlsgodt, and Sean Wajert and, on the related case of Gates v. Rohm & Haas, Andrew Trask.
- Despite misconception that the NLRB goes after employers only over union-related issues, its reach includes “concerted activity” by workers whether unionized or not, and it intends to make that power felt [Jon Hyman]
- EEOC cracks down on Marylou’s, Massachusetts coffee shop chain said to hire “pretty” staff. Tougher scrutiny of “looksism” ahead? [James McDonald/Fisher & Phillips, HR Morning, Boston Herald, related editorial]
- As critics warned at the time, Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblowing provisions make a versatile weapon for employment plaintiffs [Daniel Schwartz]
- “Is Your Job Too Hard? File a Lawsuit!” [Philip Miles]
- Unions go to court seeking to overturn new Indiana right to work law [Asheesh Agerwal, Liberty Law] “Unions: Political By Nature” [Ivan Osorio, CEI “Open Market”] SEIU vigilant against menace of higher employer wage offers [James Sherk, NRO] Metropolitan Opera’s $516,577 electrician outearned Carnegie Hall’s $436,097 stagehand [Ira Stoll]
- Sen. Al Franken [D-Minn.] and Rep. Rosa DeLauro [D-Conn.] introduce bill to overturn SCOTUS’s Wal-Mart v. Dukes [The Hill, Paul Karlsgodt, PoL, Andrew Trask]
- Lefties: you ‘tarians slight the greater freedom of being able to force people to employ you [MR: Tyler Cowen, Alex Tabarrok]
- If you’re caught sleeping on the job, courts may not prove sympathetic to your age bias claim [Eric Meyer, Employer Handbook]
- Pre-terror-attack antibiotic availability? HHS doesn’t think you’re sophisticated enough to handle that freedom [Stewart Baker]
- Uh-oh: some New York lawmakers want “a more refined First Amendment” [Slashdot, Lucy Steigerwald]
- Wal-Mart v. Dukes decision could curb certification of some wage and hour class actions [Fox]
- “Miss. Supreme Court Removes Judge from $322M Asbestos Case Because of Dad’s Lawsuits” [ABA Journal]
- Mass. town wants to seize family motel under forfeiture law, IJ objects [Jacob Sullum, Mark Perry]
- Will FDA use its new tobacco-regulatory power to stub out cigars? [DC]
- “Dole settles pesticide litigation” [WSJ Law Blog, background]
SCOTUSblog, the eminent Supreme-Court-watching site, has been running a symposium on the future of class actions after such decisions as Wal-Mart v. Dukes, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, and Smith v. Bayer. Contributors include many names familiar from our columns, including Ted Frank, Andrew Trask, Russell Jackson, and Paul Karlsgodt.
And a reminder to those of you who can make it to the Washington, D.C. area next Thursday: Cato’s annual Constitution Day will feature three outstanding panels reviewing the work of the high court in the past term, including a panel moderated by me and featuring Roger Pilon (Cato) on pre-emption, Andrew Trask (McGuire Woods) on Wal-Mart, and Jonathan Adler (Case Western, Volokh Conspiracy) on climate change litigation. You can register here.
Two weeks from this Thursday, on Sept. 15, Cato is holding its annual Constitution Day in Washington, D.C., just down the street from the Institute offices (which are undergoing renovation). The event will celebrate the publication of the 10th annual Cato Supreme Court Review and panelists will include familiar names like Jonathan Adler, Orin Kerr, Roger Pilon, Ilya Shapiro, Andrew Trask and many others. I’ll be moderating a panel on “Federalism, Civil Procedure, Business, and the Proper Judicial Role,” which will discuss among other topics the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Wal-Mart v. Dukes. The closing lecture will be given by Judge Alex Kozinski. How can you not plan to attend?
- More on CPSC’s crib ban train wreck [Commissioner Anne Northup, more, earlier]
- One man’s nightmare of false accusation [LA Times via PoL]
- How many plaintiff’s-side flicks is HBO going to air this summer, anyway? [“Mann v. Ford,” Abnormal Use]
- Apple granted “incredibly broad patent” over screen gesture technology [Tabarrok]
- Will Congress reverse this term’s much-attacked SCOTUS decisions? [Alison Frankel] Podcast on Wal-Mart v. Dukes with Brian Fitzpatrick [Fed Soc] “Wal-Mart ruling no knock-out blow for class actions” [Reuters] Contrary to some assertions, current law does strongly incentivize individual job-bias claims [Bader] More on case: Dan Bushell, and welcome Craig Newmark readers.
- Mississippi stops proceedings in $322 million asbestos case to consider judge’s possible conflict [JCL, earlier here, here]
- Nice coat, where’dja get it? [annals of incompetent crime, UK Daily Mail]
- Not for first time, Dahlia Lithwick misrepresents Wal-Mart case [Ponnuru, Whelan, earlier here and here]
- Merciful gods, please spare us ghastly “Caylee’s Law” proposal [Josh Blackman, Reuters, Greenfield, Frank] More on constitutional flaws [Robson, Tribe]
- Mark Perry on efforts to replace the relatively open-entry Washington, D.C. taxi system with NYC-style cartelization via medallion;
- “Wrongful Convictions: How many innocent Americans are behind bars?” [Balko]
- “Persaud identified himself as a juror, offering to fix the verdict for a fee.” [CBS NY; Long Island med-mal case]
- “Is the Common Law the Solution to Pollution?” [Jonathan Adler, PERC]
- “Rice Krispies class action settlement” [Ted Frank]