Supreme Court Will Take a Closer Look at Class Actions

Appeals in two cases could curb remedies for alleged small harms to big groups

The Wall Street Journal examines cases granted cert before the Supreme Court, including our case examining cy pres settlements, Frank v. Gaos. 

The Supreme Court is expanding its scrutiny of class actions, announcing Monday it would hear appeals in two separate cases from California that could curb remedies for alleged small harms that corporations caused for large numbers of individuals.

Conservative groups have been critical of cy pres awards, saying they are easily abused. In objecting to the Google settlement, they said research centers based at Harvard and Stanford universities, among those slated for awards, had connections to both sides in the case: Google already supported the centers, and some plaintiffs’ attorneys had attended the schools.

In a legal brief urging the Supreme Court to stay out, Google said the arrangement was fair. The company said that despite an “extensive campaign” to alert the public regarding the proposed settlement, “only 13 of the 129 million putative class members—about one in ten million, or 0.00001%—opted out of the class, and only five class members (including the two petitioners) entered written objections.”

The petitioners, Ted Frank and Melissa Holyoak, are attorneys with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative advocacy group.

Read the full story here.