(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Monday, July 22, 2002

In an article published here on law.com, a class action lawyer named Roger Mandel says, "With a decision in one case and an order declining to hear another, the U.S. Supreme Court sent a strong signal that the federal circuit courts have been improperly favoring corporate defendants in class actions by using overly strict standards." He's talking about Devlin v. Scardelletti (holding that objectors to a class settlement don't have to be granted intervention in order to appeal approval of the settlement) and the denial of cert in an antitrust class action case.

Much as I'd like to agree with his assertion -- it would help both my practice, and the fairness of our economic system, I think, if the Supreme Court really did send that message -- I can't. Devlin was a pretty obviously correct decision, I think, but can't really be described as correcting some lower-court habit of "improperly favoring corporate defendants"; after all, every appealed settlement has (by definition) been agreed to by a plaintiff's class as well as by a corporate defendant, so a decision that makes it incrementally easier to overturn such a settlement is no more tough on defendants than it is tough on plaintiff classes. And as to the antitrust case, I applaud the writer's effort, but in the end I think that you can never read anything into the denial of cert -- the factors going into any such decision are just too complicated.

posted by sam 10:21 AM 0 comments


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