Dukes v. Walmart

TYSON FOODS V. BOUAPHAKEO: HAS THE SKY FALLEN?

Earlier this year, statistics made headlines as the subject of a new Supreme Court decision, Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo. As Jocelyn Larkin described in her earlier blog post, employees working in the kill, cut, and retrim departments of a Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Iowa alleged that they had not been paid overtime for the time they spent putting on and taking off the protective gear required to do their dangerous jobs. At trial, the employees relied on “representative evidence” to prove liability – an observational study that resulted in an estimated average “donning and doffing” time for each department. A jury awarded the class of employees about $2.9 million in unpaid wages.

The Supreme Court accepted Tyson’s appeal and agreed to consider two questions:

"Concrete" Still Not Set In Spokeo Decision

The Supreme Court yesterday decided the third of three class actions cases from this term that we have been closely watching, Spokeo Inc. v. Robins.   A few observations.

Phew!  The Court did not adopt the most extreme of defense arguments that Congress cannot authorize statutory damages where the victim cannot prove that he or she actually lost money as a result of corporate malfeasance.

SCOTUS Denies Cert in Wal-Mart Stores v. Braun

On April 4, the U.S. Supreme Court denied cert in Wal-Mart Stores v. Braun, a wage and hour class action brought on behalf of 187,000 hourly Wal-Mart workers in Pennsylvania.  The case was tried in the Pennsylvania state court in 2006, and Michael Donovan and his team obtained a $188 million verdict for the workers. The heart of the appellate dispute was Wal-Mart’s decision to stop keeping records of wage and hour violations.

Black Workers Get Class Action Certification in Race Discrimination Case

The Western District of Washington recently certified a class of black workers asserting claims of race-based discrimination based on subjective decision-making in the hiring and firing process of workers at the Sound Transit “University Link” light-rail project. The case is Rollins v. Traylor Bros., Inc., No. C14-1414 JCC, 2016 WL 258523 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 21, 2016). After allegations of discrimination and harassment against black laborers at the Traylor Bros., Inc./Frontier-Kemper Joint Venture (“TFK”) site. Sound Transit hired an expert (Marcella Flemming Reed) to investigate...

Ninth Circuit Win For Transparency

The Ninth Circuit’s decision in The Center for Auto Safety v. Chrysler Group, decided January 11, 2016, adopted a new standard for district courts to use in deciding whether the public has a right to access court records filed by the parties under seal.   The decision will go a long way to ensure that corporations cannot hide evidence of misconduct that may threaten public safety.   The decision also has important implications for class action litigators.