Supreme Court Protects Class Action Lawsuits

The U. S. Supreme Court protected the use of class action lawsuits to address corporate wrongdoing by deciding that state laws barring class actions cannot trump federal court rules allowing them.

Thr decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Stevens, Thomas and Sotomayor, accepted the argument that the federal rules, by their terms, authorize class actions in any case that meets the criteria set by the rules, and conflicting state laws cannot override the federal rules.

The majority opinion ruled that federal procedural standards “create a categorical rule entitling a plaintiff whose suit meets the specified criteria to pursue his claim as a class action,” and that  this rule “automatically applies” in all cases in federal court, even if a class action would not be allowed in a similar case brought in a state court.

The case, Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates v. Allstate Insurance Company,  ensures that class actions will be available as a means for redress for plaintiffs advancing claims based on both state and federal substantive law if there is a basis for federal court jurisdiction over the case.

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