January 30, 2014 Articles

The Law and Economics of Class Actions: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

A summary of important cases and developments featured at the 2013 Class Action Landscape conference.

By James Langenfeld and Raleigh Richards

Legal and economic analyses overlap and interact in many areas. Recent U.S. Supreme Court and lower court decisions on class action lawsuits clearly focus on the critical role that economic analysis serves in determining the outcome of class actions. Class action decisions, such as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes and Comcast Corp. v. Behrend have made national headlines and are affecting how class action cases are evaluated and managed. These and other recent decisions have arguably raised the bar in class certification for showing common impact and predominance through expert testimony, as they have turned on the adequacy of the analyses put forth by expert economists, finding the basic economic and statistical analyses of the plaintiffs’ economists to be insufficient. The decisions are likely to have significant implications for use of expert testifiers in class certification and in estimation of monetary damages. They will also present challenges to both attorneys and economists in antitrust and other class actions going forward.

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