Supreme Court To Rescue Wal-Mart Employees!

Well, I guess it depends on your perspective:

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal in the biggest employment discrimination case in the nation’s history, one claiming that Wal-Mart discriminated against hundreds of thousands of women in pay and promotion. The lawsuit seeks back pay that could amount to billions of dollars.

The question before the court is not whether there was discrimination but rather whether the claims by the individual employees may be combined as a class action. The court’s decision on that issue will almost certainly affect all sorts of class- action suits, including ones asserting antitrust, securities and, products liability and other claims.

If nothing else, many pending class actions will slow or stop while litigants and courts await the decision in the case.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has granted review in this important case,” Wal-Mart said in a statement. “The current confusion in class-action law is harmful for everyone — employers, employees, businesses of all types and sizes and the civil justice system. These are exceedingly important issues that reach far beyond this particular case.”

Brad Seligman, the main lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a telephone interview after the court decision: “Wal-Mart has thrown up an extraordinarily broad number of issues, many of which, if the court seriously entertained, could very severely undermine many civil rights class actions. We welcome the court’s review of this limited issue, and we’re confident that the core of our action will go forward.” 

 In other news, expect more tort reform in the Florida legislature:

Now, because of a new conservative wave that has swept over the upper chamber, the business community that has longed for an overhaul of the state’s litigation system — a move supporters call “tort reform” — think that their day might have come at last. “No question, tort reform is now going to be an issue that we’re going to be able to get through the Senate without gnawing our fingers off,” said Barney Bishop, president and CEO of the Associated Industries of Florida, a business group. Not as excited are the state’s trial lawyers, who now face a possible onslaught of tort changes after an erosion of their support in the Senate. But Debra Henley, executive director of the Florida Justice Association, said her group was prepared for the fight.

“We’ve had tough fights on the rights and remedies of Florida’s citizens for many years now,” Henley said.

Soon the only thing left will be a bunch of business litigators suing each other — and we all know how much fun that can be!