Class Actions Blog

US Supreme Court Supports Class Actions

Posted on: June 24th, 2010 by Steve Larson

The conventional wisdom is that the US Supreme Court is anti-class action.  However, recent case law suggests otherwise.

A recent example is a proposed class action called Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates, P.A., Petitioner  v. Allstate Insurance Company, 130 S.Ct 1431 (2010).  In that case, the putative class representative, a medical care facility, alleged that Allstate had a routine practice of paying bills late and not paying interest.  Allstate countered by citing a New York state law which prohibits class actions in New York courts whenever those bringing the lawsuit seek a “penalty”- in this case, the recovery of interest –unless the law that creates the penalty specifically allows class actions.  Although the case was before a federal court, Allstate argued that this New York procedural rule should apply rather than the federal court rules that permit class actions. Read more…

Ninth Circuit Reaffirms the Standard of Review for Class Certification in Dukes v. Wal-Mart

Posted on: June 17th, 2010 by Steve Larson

In Betty Dukes v. Wal-Mart, Inc., 603 F.3d 571 (9th Cir. 2010), the Ninth Circuit affirmed the certification of a class of female Wal-Mart employees who alleged that Wal-Mart discriminated against them in compensation and promotions.  The Dukes decision is newsworthy because it is the largest gender discrimination class ever certified.  Because of this, and because commentators suggest that there are substantial differences among the circuits, it is likely that the US Supreme Court will grant certiorari.

However, just because the class is large does not justify granting certiorari.  Wal-Mart is a huge employer, and just because it is a large employer should not qualify it for different treatment under the law.  Further, the purported split among the circuits is more imagined than real.  I agree with the Dukes court that consensus is rapidly emerging among the circuits, and that the statement that there are “substantial differences” in the circuits seems to create a distinction where none exists.  The majority in Dukes followed longstanding precedent when clarifying the standard trial courts must follow when considering class certification.  Although some suggest otherwise, the standard announced in Dukes is nothing really new.

Read more…

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This blog is intended to provide information to the general public and to practitioners about developments that may impact Oregon class actions.

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  • Steve Larson

  • Steve Larson
  • Steve Larson has been representing investors, consumers and employees in class actions in Oregon for over 20 years. He is a shareholder at the law firm of Stoll Berne in Portland, Oregon.
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