Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Certification of Largest Class in History--Affirmed

As you may know, a group of plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart alleging sexual discrimination against Wal-Mart employees in violation of Title VII.  The district court certified the plaintiffs' proposed class (with some modifications).  Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Dukes v. Wal-Mart and affirmed the district court's decision to certify the class.  What is remarkable about this decision is the size of the class it creates.  This class action is the largest certified in U.S history, consisting of more than 1.5 million members.  Many thanks to Scott Dodson for keeping an eye on this case for us.--Counseller

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Dukes v. Wal-Mart is not the largest certified class action by a long shot. On July 19, 1990, Judge Anne E. Thompson of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey certified the following class: "all natural persons who in or after December 22, 1987 have received or will receive mailings from the Internal Revenue Service related to federal income tax obligations." See 1990 WL 10029523. At the time, it appeared that the class had approximately 105 million members. The class was certified in Peter Zilahy Ingerman v. Internal Revenue Service, No. 3:89-cv-5396 (USDC D.N.J.). Ingerman was seeking damages from the Internal Revenue Service under the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. section 552a. His theory was that the Service's practice of placing social security numbers on the mailing labels of federal 1040 tax packages violated the Privacy Act's anti-disclosure provisions. On April 3, 1991, Judge Thompson granted the government's motion for summary judgment, which was affirmed by the Third Circuit on January 17, 1992. See 953 F.2d 1380. I was counsel of record for the Internal Revenue Service. Ingerman was represented by Frederic J. Gross of Mt. Ephraim, NJ.

Michael J. Salem
Rockville, Maryland

Posted by: Michael J. Salem | Jan 27, 2008 6:25:17 PM

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