On April 4, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review of a $188 million class-action judgment returned against Wal-Mart in Pennsylvania state court and later upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court regarding claimed “rest break” and “meal break” violations. Only six plaintiffs testified on behalf of the class, and the plaintiffs’ experts used extrapolated evidence to calculate the total damages sustained (rather than actually determining the total damages based on each individual plaintiff’s claimed loss).
Despite Wal-Mart’s contentions that this “trial by formula” approach violated its constitutional rights and was in tension with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338 (2011), the Supreme Court declined to consider the case on the merits and, as is customary, did not specify why it did so. The seeming tension with Dukes appears to have arisen, in large part, from that decision’s holding that the Dukes plaintiffs’ statistical and anecdotal evidence regarding alleged class-wide discrimination was insufficient to prove discrimination as to the individual class members. Wal-Mart appears to have sought a similar ruling regarding these Pennsylvania plaintiffs’ extrapolated damages.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Braun, Nos. 14-1123 and 14-1124, — S.Ct. —-, 2016 WL 1278628 and 2016 WL 1278624 (Mem) (U.S. Apr. 4, 2016).