March 29, 2016 Practice Points

Supreme Court Rules in Tyson Foods

The case rejects Comcast v. Behrend

by Andrew J. McGuinness

In a 6–2 decision released March 22, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, No. 4–1146, ___ U.S. ___ (2016), affirmed the district and appellate lower court decisions (1) certifying a Rule 23 state law class action that paralleled a Fair Labor Standards Act opt-in class; and (2) upholding a jury verdict finding liability and aggregate damages based upon expert testimony as to the average time it took for workers at a meatpacking plant in Iowa to don and doff protective gear in each of two departments.

A key focus of this case watched by many—the analysis of the appropriateness of using average data—is nuanced and will be the topic of much further discussion and case law development in other areas of substantive law (outside the overtime context). However, an immediate result of this decision is more clear.

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