September 01, 2011

Advance Sheet: Class Action Answers—and Questions

The Supreme Court's decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., v. Dukes disappointed those on both sides who demanded a moralistic conclusion to what really was a far more mundane legal controversy.

Robert E. Shapiro

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Few Supreme Court cases have been as closely watched in recent years as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (June 20, 2011). Seeming to hang in the balance as Dukes approached decision was much of the future of class action litigation. The battle lines regarding class actions have been pretty sharply drawn of late.

To its advocates, class action litigation has been a great boon to the rights of the underserved. To its detractors, it has become the bane of American litigation and business. The former contend that millions of the powerless and those of limited resources would otherwise have no means of obtaining relief from the wrongs visited upon them by the two bigs, big government and big business. The latter think of class actions as the epitome of a litigation system gone awry, providing little but sumptuous legal fees to lawyers who ultimately have no interest in the needs or wants of the clients they supposedly serve and who do little to advance any legitimate cause.

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