Thursday, April 2, 2015
Wal-Mart filed a petition for certiorari on March 13 with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that it throw out a $151 million class-action award approved by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. The award involved a wage case brought in state court that certified the claims of close to 200,000 workers. Wal-Mart is asking that the Court apply the principles from the Dukes decision – which was brought in federal court under Title VII – to the state court claims. It will be an interesting petition to follow, and if granted by the Court, could raise some important due process concerns for state court claims. Other cases have already raised the applicability of the Supreme Court’s commonality test in Dukes to state class action cases, which I wrote about here, and the Court has denied at least one cert petition on the issue already. If the commonality test does apply to state cases, it would be a huge game-changer for all class-action litigants. Philly.com posted an interesting article on the case, quoting a Wal-Mart official that
“We disagree with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision, and continue to believe that these claims should not be bundled together into a class-action lawsuit. Most of these claims are over 10 years old. Wal-Mart has had strong policies in place to make sure all associates receive their appropriate pay and break periods. We have taken additional steps over the last decade, including enhancing our timekeeping systems and additional training, to make sure all our associates understand the importance of those policies and comply with them."
We will follow the petition and keep you posted on any updates in this case.
- Joe Seiner