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July 08, 2004
WalMart challenges gender discrimination class certification
On Tuesday, WalMart appealed from the district court decision granting class status to 1.6 million current and former employees claiming gender discrimination. Our editor discussed the case here, and I followed up here.
The appeal brings up an interesting point in light of this week's debate in the Senate over the Class Action Fairness Act. The WalMart case was filed in federal court, and thus would not be affected by the Act. But the class certification itself is immediately appealable in federal courts -- what in legal jargon is called "interlocutory appeal." In contrast, in many state courts, a defendant would have to litigate the entire case to a final judgment before it could appeal the class certification decision itself. The pressure to settle such a large case would be much higher in such state court jurisdictions. By permitting removal to federal court for large national class actions, the Class Action Fairness Act would ameliorate this problem.
For the record, I think that WalMart will win this appeal (though with the Ninth Circuit, you never know...). As I discussed in my earlier posting, this case exemplifies what shouldn't be a class action.
Posted by James R. Copland at 12:50 PM
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