At the end of last week, the Supreme Court decided American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant, which further refined the Court’s approach to arbitration of class actions. Most importantly, it eliminated the "vindication of rights" exception to enforcing arbitration clauses. (That was the doctrine that held that a court need not compel arbitration of a putative class action if it would practically prevent the plaintiff from vindicating her rights in a cost-effective manner.)

In Italian Colors, a group of merchants filed an antitrust class action against American Express, alleging that it had violated Sherman ActContinue Reading

 Defendants often argue that limiting the evidence they can produce in a class action violates their rights to due process. It’s an argument we take very seriously, but since it’s usually not the centerpiece of the argument, many defense arguments mention the concept briefly and then move on to the intricacies of Rule 23 or rebutting the plaintiff’s particularly careless allegations.

DePaul Law professor Mark Moller has written an article for the Utah Law Review, "Class Action Defendants’ New Lochnerism," that looks to investigate the due process argument defendants usually advance. [Disclosure, Professor Moller and I were … Continue Reading

 Dreaded deadline doom on a few projects (and some actual paying work) means that, unfortunately, today’s post will have to be light on original content.  

Fortunately, Judge Posner has an excellent review of Justice Scalia’s new book up at The New Republic, so I can just direct you there.  It’s classic Posner, and includes one of the most lucid critiques I’ve read on originalism:

The decisive objection to the quest for original meaning, even when the quest is conducted in good faith, is that judicial historiography rarely dispels ambiguity. Judges are not competent historians. Even real historiography

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In Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, Justice Scalia registered his disapproval of using statistics to litigate liability in a class action, writing

The Court of Appeals believed that it was possible to replace such proceedings with Trial by Formula. A sample set of the class members would be selected, as to whom liability for sex discrimination and the backpay owing as a result would be determined in depositions supervised by a master. The percentage of claims determined to be valid would then be applied to the entire remaining class, and the number of (presumptively) valid claims thus derived

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Many apologies for providing you all with just a linkdump for my Tuesday entry, but I’m lying in bed with a triple-digit fever.  Still, there are certainly other legal blogs that do a thoughtful job of covering class-action issues, and I’m lucky that several of them have great entries right now.

  • Justice Scalia has stayed a Louisiana state court ruling requiring tobacco companies to pay into a $241 million dollar "quit smoking" fund.  His reason: it’s "significantly possible" that the Court may overturn the decision on constitutional grounds.  Specifically: “the extent to which class treatment may constitutionally reduce the normal requirements
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Last Thursday, in Morrison v. National Australia Bank (slip op.), the Supreme Court held 8-0 (Sotomayor, J. not participating) that “foreign-cubed” class actions (where the plaintiff, the defendant, and the sale of the security are all located outside the US) did not have sufficient ties to the United States to justify invoking US securities laws. The bulk of Justice Scalia’s majority opinion focused on the question of when one could presume that a law would apply outside the US. (The “presumption of extraterritoriality.”) As a statement of how the US will treat cases that may have international application, this … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court issued an opinion in Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates v. Allstate Insurance Company yesterday.

The case stemmed from a class action that had been filed in New York state. The class action arose after a woman was injured in a car accident. She was treated by Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates (the plaintiff). To pay for the treatment, the woman assigned her insurance benefits to Sahdy Grove. Shady Grove submitted the claim, but Allstate paid it late, and did not pay the required 2% interest on the overdue benefits. So Shady Grove filed a class action on behalf of … Continue Reading