The Supreme Court will review a $2.8 million judgment against Tyson Foods in an overtime class action suit. It appears the Court will consider two questions: (1) whether and how statistical evidence and methods may be used to determine damages on a class-wide basis; and, (2) whether individuals may be included in a class, even if they've sustained no damages. Read the petition for certiorari here.
My estimation is that Tyson will find the Roberts Court quite receptive to their arguments. The Republican-appointed majority on the Court has been more than solicitous of business and corporate interests and almost unfailingly hostile toward individuals and employees. The Court is likely to use the case to virtually eliminate class actions in at least two ways: (1) it will practically eliminate the use of statistical methods, which, in turn, will practically eliminate class actions, since every class member's particularized damages would have to be proved individually just as it would in a non-class action suit; and, (2) while the second point is practically irrelevant, the Court will use it as a vehicle to restrict more generally the formation of class actions by creating some requirement erecting a barrier to being an eligible class member.