Comcast Corp. v. Behrend: Supreme Court Reinforces Dukes -- Holds that Class Certification Requires Merits Assessment of Damages Claims

more+
less-

Yesterday, in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 569 U.S. __ (2013), the Supreme Court strongly reinforced its earlier decision in Wal Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. __ (2011) that courts must undertake a “rigorous analysis” to satisfy themselves that the requirements for class certification have been met and must address the underlying merits of the case where necessary to carry out that analysis. Applying this standard to damages claims, the Court in a 5-4 decision reversed class certification where plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that damages could be proved on a classwide basis.

BACKGROUND. The Dukes opinion acknowledged that preliminary issues of class certification frequently require district courts to resolve questions that overlap with the merits. Dukes did not, however, answer how courts should resolve that question or in what context, and lower courts have been issuing inconsistent results regarding the extent to which merits questions should be addressed at the class certification stage. Behrend—the first Supreme Court decision to apply Dukes—addresses that issue by requiring a district court to scrutinize the merits of a class plaintiffs’ damages evidence at the class certification stage as necessary to ensure that damages can be determined on a classwide basis.

Please see full alert below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.