U.S. Capital


Jun 22, 2011

DRI—Voice of the Defense Bar—Weighs in on Opinions

CHICAGO, IL (Law Firm Newswire) June 21, 2011 – DRI – This morning the U.S. Supreme Court released decisions on two cases of critical importance to the defense bar. DRI is proud to announce that the holdings in Wal-Mart v. Dukes and AEP v. Connecticut both correspond to the arguments set forth in amicus curiae briefs that DRI filed to protect the interests of its members and their clients.

The landmark Wal-Mart v. Dukes case has far-reaching implications for both Title VII class actions and for class actions more generally. Had the Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of the district court and the Ninth Circuit, the effect could have been a dramatic expansion of the circumstances in which class certification is appropriate. Instead, the Court held that the certification of the proposed class, which would have been the largest employment class action in history, was not consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23(a)(2), which requires a party seeking class certification to prove that the class has common “questions of law or fact.” The Court further held that the class plaintiffs’ backpay claims were improperly certified under Rule 23(b)(2).

In the case of American Electric Power Company, Inc., et al., v. State of Connecticut, et al. (No. 10-174). The Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the eight states bringing the suit, along with New York City and several environmental nonprofits, could invoke the powers of the federal court to regulate greenhouse gases as public nuisances under federal common law. The Court’s answer was that they could not, holding that the Clean Air Act and the authority that it places with the EPA displace any federal common law right to seek abatement of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants. Although DRI acknowledged in its brief that the respondents’ goal of reducing global climate change is laudable, pursuing a federal common law public nuisance action against a handful of arbitrarily selected energy-generating targets is an improper use of the courts in achieving that end.

About DRI – The Voice of the Defense Bar
DRI – The Voice of the Defense Bar is an international organization of defense attorneys and corporate counsel that is recognized as a thought leader and an advocate for the defense bar at the national and state level, as well as in Europe. With more than 22,000 members, DRI provides members and their clients with access to world-class education, legal resources and numerous marketing and networking opportunities that facilitate career and law firm growth. For more information log on to www.dri.org.

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Editor’s Note: DRI has legal experts available to comment on both cases. Please contact Tracy N. Schorle, 312-698-6276 or 708-828-0299; tschorle@dri.org, www.dri.org or Vicki Bendure, 540-687-3360 or 202-374-9259; vicki@bendurepr.com.

Media Contact:
Vicki Bendure, APR
202-374-9259 c

DRI – The Voice of the Defense Bar
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Chicago, IL 60603