U.S. Law Week Summarizes SCOTUS Civil Litigation Cases
U.S. Law Week (7/19/11) has published a summary analysis of the Supreme Court's civil litigation cases from this term. Here is an excerpt:
Court Reins in Class Actions
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes: Avoided employment discrimination “Armageddon” for national corporations by rejecting certification of largest class action in history.
AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion: Allows companies to contract around the threat of consumer class actions by upholding an arbitration agreement containing a class action waiver.
Honorable Mention: PLIVA Inc. v. Mensing
Preemption, Immigration Cases Deliver Blow
Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting: Arizona may administer the “business death penalty” to employers who hire illegal immigrants.
Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America Inc.: By providing a choice in safety features, federal regulations do not automatically preempt state tort claims against manufacturers.
Honorable Mentions: Thompson v. North American Stainless LP; Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp.
Cases Every Lawyer Should Study.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes: By emphasizing commonality considerations under Rule 23(a), the opinion is terra nova for arguments over how much “glue” is needed to hold class actions together.
J. McIntyre Machinery Ltd. v. Nicastro: Plaintiffs’ lawyers must consider the decision when choosing the proper forum for product liability suits against foreign companies.
Honorable Mention: AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion
More Questions Than Answers
J. McIntyre Machinery Ltd. v. Nicastro: The court's failure to definitively address the questions left open by Asahi will lead to more litigation and confusion over personal jurisdiction.
PLIVA Inc. v. Mensing: The decision could signal a turning point in the court's preemption jurisprudence that may cause lower courts to struggle with its application.
Honorable Mentions: Global-Tech Appliances Inc. v. SEB S.A.; Turner v. Rogers
Little Fanfare but Significant Impact
Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc.: In an area of commercial speech increasingly regulated by states, a bold First Amendment holding should be a warning to legislatures to tread lightly.
Stern v. Marshall: Despite “soap opera facts,” ruling could dramatically burden the dockets of state and federal district courts.
Prison Relief and Unanimity Shock Observers
Brown v. Plata: The court's endorsement of broad injunctive relief, particularly in the area of prison management, was out of character.
Honorable Mention: Unanimous holdings in Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, American Electric Power v. Connecticut, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes (on the Rule 23(b)(2) issue), were unexpected.
Got Our Attention, But Earth Didn't Move
Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Limited Partnership: Although Microsoft asked the court to invalidate the long-established clear and convincing evidence standard for patent validity challenges, the court remained steadfast and left the current standard alone.
Flores-Villar v. United States: One of the two cases affirmed by an equally divided court, the decision illustrates the minimal impact Justice Elena Kagan's recusals had on the term.
Honorable Mentions: Snyder v. Phelps; Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association