It’s June, which means the Supreme Court is issuing a spate of opinions to finish out its 2010-11 term. Yesterday, the Court announced its opinion for Erica John Fund v. Halliburton. It’s a short opinion, and a unanimous one. (Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion for the 9-0 Court.)

As you may remember, this case concerns an alleged securities fraud. The plaintiffs had alleged that Halliburton understated its asbestos litigation liability and overstated the benefits of a proposed merger. Once the truth came out, the price of Halliburton’s stock dropped. When the plaintiffs moved for class certification, Halliburton … Continue Reading

Last Friday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Archdiocese of Milwaukee Supporting Fund, Inc. v Halliburton Co. This is the fourth certiorari grant this term for a class action.

So what’s the issue in this case? Loss causation. In securities cases, plaintiffs are often allowed to rely on a theory called "fraud on the market," which requires the court to presume that shareholders relied on any false information that was introduced to an efficient securities market. The "fraud on the market" theory is a powerful tool for class action plaintiffs. When applied, it makes certification of … Continue Reading

Fordham Law professor Howard Erichson (http://law.fordham.edu/faculty/1095.htm) has posted a new working paper that addresses the thorny issue of settlements in mass tort cases.  Titled Uncertainty and the Advantage of Collective Settlement, (forthcoming, DePaul Law Review) it posits six different types of uncertainty in mass torts, each of which he links to well-known cases. According to Erichson, there is uncertainty about

1. General causation (eg, Bendectin litigation)
2. Liability (tobacco/Agent Orange)
3. Exposure (ephedra/Wolburn leukemia clusters)
4. Product ID (asbestos)
5. Individual medical causation (Vioxx)
6. Damages

Erichson argues that, for cases 4, 5, and 6, aggregate settlement is … Continue Reading