Partners in the Supreme Court practices of US law firms pick the most important commercial cases heard in 2013 and plot the court’s course over the next 12 months.
Amir Tayrani, a partner in the Washington, DC office of Los Angeles-headquartered Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, says that in Standard Fire Co v Knowles, the court in March held that a class action should be heard in a federal court, even though the class was seeking less than the threshold amount for federal jurisdiction.
He explains: “There appears to be a concern shared to varying degrees by all members of the court that the class action procedure has been abused by plaintiffs’ lawyers – at the expense of both class members and class action defendants – to secure windfall settlements that primarily benefit class counsel and that bear no relation to whether the class claims are actually meritorious.”
The court also showed a desire to clamp down on joining claims in a single case unless class-wide damage could be proved. Tayrani highlights the case of Comcast Corp v Behrend, where it ruled in March that two million subscribers to Comcast’s television service could not pursue an antitrust class action “because they could not prove damages on a class-wide basis”.
This article quotes Baker Botts Attorney Aaron Street.
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