SCOTUS Delivers Setbacks to Class Actions
Our blog not only follows the latest in plaintiff eDiscovery news and case law, but also cases that affect trial attorneys who fight for consumers in class action lawsuits. Last week, the Supreme Court issued set backs to would-be class members in both a 5-4 decision in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 569 U.S. ____(2013), and a unanimous decision in Standard Fire Insurance v. Knowles, 568 U.S. ____(2013).
The plaintiffs in Comcast alleged that the cable giant engaged in activities that were in violation of anti-trust laws that led to higher prices and injury to plaintiffs. Although the lower court certified the class and found commonality based on the damages model proffered by plaintiff trial attorneys, the majority held that the damages model used “falls far short of establishing that damages are capable of measurement on a classwide basis.” Led by conservative Justice Scalia, the Court found the plaintiffs therefore failed to establish commonality, and therefore, the class was improperly certified.
In Standard Fire, the issue was whether, under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), plaintiffs may stipulate that damages will be less than $5 million to avoid removal to the federal courts. In finding for defendants, Justice Beyer noted that “stipulations must be binding,” and that class members cannot legally bind members of the proposed class before the class is certified.