An important and recurring issue in class actions is whether a district court must consider particular merits issues when deciding whether to certify a class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Today, in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend (pdf), No. 11-864, the Supreme Court reversed the certification of an antitrust class action because the district court failed to conduct a “rigorous analysis” of whether the testimony of the plaintiffs’ damages expert satisfies Rule 23(b)(3)’s requirement that “questions of law or fact common to class members predominate” over individualized questions. The lower courts had concluded that they were unable to
Continue Reading Supreme Court Reverses Certification of Antitrust Class Action Where Class Failed To Prove That Damages Could Be Determined On A Classwide Basis

A number of courts recently have weighed in on a question we’ve blogged before—whether lawsuits by state attorneys general seeking restitution on behalf of private citizens are subject to removal under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (pdf) (“CAFA”). These rulings have broad implications for the litigation of these quasi-class actions.  They also are of substantial importance to determining whether securities fraud actions filed by state attorneys general are precluded by the federal Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (pdf) (“SLUSA”).
Continue Reading Are Quasi-Class Action Suits By State AGs Removable Under CAFA (Or, For Securities Fraud Cases, Barred By SLUSA)?

The Supreme Court’s 2012-13 term is shaping up to be an important one for class action law.  Last month, the Court heard argument on the same day in two potentially significant cases. Comcast Corp. v. Behrend concerns whether plaintiffs may obtain class certification without introducing admissible evidence (including expert testimony) that damages can be proven on a class-wide basis.  And the question in Amgen Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds is whether in a securities fraud case materiality must be established at the class-certification stage to obtain the crucial presumption of reliance. My colleague Archis Parasharami and I
Continue Reading Supreme Court Roundup: The Oral Arguments in Comcast and Amgen

The Supreme Court has just granted certiorari in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant, No. 12-133.   Earlier today, my colleague Andy Pincus previewed the issue presented to the Court, which is (in a nutshell) whether plaintiffs may avoid their agreements to arbitrate on an individual rather than class-wide basis by contending that they cannot “effectively vindicate” their federal claims without the use of the class device.

Since AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, the majority of courts have enforced arbitration agreements that waive class actions.   But a distinct minority of courts, relying on the Second Circuit’s decision
Continue Reading Supreme Court Grants Certiorari in American Express Arbitration Case

When the Supreme Court convenes for its private conference today, the Justices will consider whether to grant certiorari in a case presenting one of the most significant questions regarding the meaning of the Court’s ruling in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion that remains unresolved in the lower courts.

Following the Concepcion decision, opponents of arbitration tried to convince lower courts to limit Concepcion’s holding that arbitration clauses could not be invalidated on the ground that they required individual arbitration and prohibited class proceedings. The overwhelming majority of those arguments were rejected by district courts and courts of appeals, as explained in this article.

But a two-judge panel of the Second Circuit earlier this year endorsed the bizarre assertion that Concepcion applies differently depending on whether the claim to be arbitrated arises under state or federal law. In In re American Express Merchants’ Litigation, the panel held that agreements to arbitrate disputes on an individual basis need not be enforced when a plaintiff provides evidence that the costs of vindicating a federal claim make it “economically irrational” to pursue such a claim without the class-action procedure. Amazingly, the court found that the affidavit of the plaintiffs’ own economic expert provided sufficient “evidence” to invalidate the arbitration clauses. In other words, arbitration clauses that could be enforced with respect to a state claim might be unenforceable if the same plaintiff brought a virtually identical claim under federal law.

As noted in an earlier blog post, American Express filed a petition for a writ of certiorari seeking review of the Second Circuit’s ruling (American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant, No. 12-133) and Mayer Brown authored an amicus brief supporting the petition on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, American Bankers Association, and National Association of Manufacturers.Continue Reading Supreme Court Poised To Decide Whether To Grant Certiorari In Major Arbitration Case (In re American Express)

Antitrust class actions differ in a number of respects from the ordinary run of consumer class actions. Perhaps most notably, they frequently involve classes made up, not of individual consumers, but of highly sophisticated businesses with potentially enormous sums of money on the line. These class members sometimes take an active role in the litigation, using innovative tactics to advance their individual interests within the broader context of the class action.

It doesn’t always work. In Precision Associates, Inc. v. Panalpina World Transport (pdf), a class action under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, several large class members intervened and
Continue Reading Can Class Members Opt Out of a Class Settlement But Not the Action? No, Says E.D.N.Y.