In the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, the fate of class action cases brought before the U.S. Supreme Court has come under serious question.
While some are concerned that, most immediately, Scalia’s absence will cause more ties – allowing lower court decisions to stand, many others are hopeful that this could have positive impacts for the consumers and plaintiffs in class actions.
Justice Scalia’s Legacy of Pro-Business Rulings that Limited Class Actions
Known as a fervent opponent of class action cases, Scalia regularly voted in favor of business interests and wrote a number of opinions that limited class actions. Just some of the cases in which Scalia issued the tie-breaking, pro-business vote included:
- AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (No. 09-893), which affirmed arbitration provisions in consumer contracts that disallowed class actions
- Ashcroft v. IQBAL (No. 07-1015), which required more precision in plaintiffs’ claim statements
- Comcast v. Behrend (No. 11-864), which established stricter requirements for certifying class actions.
Pending Class Action Cases May Reveal More about the Impacts of Justice Scalia’s Death
The Supreme Court has yet to rule on a handful of several other important pending class action cases, and the outcome of these cases will likely shed more light on how the pro-business versus pro-consumer pendulum may swing in future class action cases brought before the high court.
Some of these pending class actions that SCOTUS has yet to rule on include:
- Spokeo v. Robins (No. 13-1339), which concerns plaintiffs’ rights to sue for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act in the absence of “concrete” financial harm
- Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo (No. 14-1146), which pertains to certifying class actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act in regards to overtime pay.
- Microsoft v. Baker (No. 15-457), which pertains to whether plaintiffs have the right to tactically dismiss their cases in order to guarantee an appellate review
As legal professionals, consumer advocates and others await rulings in the above cases, the nation is standing by to see whether President Obama will be able to nominate the replacement for Scalia – or whether this duty will be reserved for his successor. The impacts of that choice could dramatically shift the tide of business and regulatory law over the next few decades.
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