Toobin: 'Very good day in court for Wal-Mart'
Activists supporting efforts to allow a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart hold signs in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
March 29th, 2011
07:52 PM ET

Toobin: 'Very good day in court for Wal-Mart'

The Supreme Court's conservative majority didn't appear impressed Tuesday with plaintiffs' arguments that more than 1 million female Wal-Mart workers, past and present, should be able to accuse the retailer of discrimination in one class-action lawsuit, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said.

Though a ruling isn't expected until late June, the justices' reactions during oral arguments might portend a defeat for six plaintiffs who want to band with employees from across the country and make their accusations in a single, massive trial, Toobin said.

"I thought it was a very good day in court for Wal-Mart, and I would not be at all surprised if the whole case were thrown out after listening to the justices today,” Toobin said on "CNN Newsroom."

The Supreme Court is deciding whether the original lawsuit, in which six female Wal-Mart workers allege systemic discrimination in which the retailer paid women less than men and gave women fewer promotions, can be given class-action status.

A decision to allow such a large suit, with nearly 1.6 million potential plaintiffs, would represent an enormous litigation risk for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Should Wal-Mart lose such a suit, it could face tens of billions of dollars in damages.

But the Supreme Court's conservative justices appeared skeptical of arguments for allowing a class action, Toobin said.

Both sides concede that Wal-Mart has official policies barring discrimination against women and  listing diversity as an important value, Toobin said.

"What the plaintiffs' lawyers were saying (Tuesday) was that that policy was so vague that it gave local, individual store managers the opportunity to discriminate against women," Toobin said. "The more conservative justices on the court were saying, 'Well, if that’s the case, how can you try them all together? Because each store had a different set of circumstances. How can you do a class action when the policy is a fair one, a good one, and it’s only the individuals who were possibly discriminated against?'"

A decision to allow a class-action suit might lead Wal-Mart to try to settle the case to get the "enormous risk off its books," Toobin said.

"But after today, I think Wal-Mart will be a lot less willing to settle, because it looks like much or all of the case may be thrown out by what is an increasingly conservative Supreme Court," Toobin said.

- CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears and CNN's Randi Kaye contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Business • Courts • Justice • Lawsuit • Supreme Court
soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. Sans of Time

    @Scottish: Aldi includes the water weight. Half the can of green beans was water. The quality was horrible too. I wonder why Costco is so much better than Sam's other than your biased.

    March 30, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Just opened an can of Harvest from Aldi's and a can of Green giant same amount of product in can and tastes the same.

      March 30, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. bob

    @Scottish.. I told you to shut the fukk up, you don't seem to understand, just keep your fingers inside your azz and don't post more crap

    March 30, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Post, post, post post, nothing valid to add or to contribute, wasted space you are.

      March 30, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. bob

    @Scottish. You seem to know everything, why don't you tell us the size of your kunt

    March 30, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. bob

    Maybe its because I love you

    March 30, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Just like the cathlic boys who used to pull my hair.

      March 30, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. joe

    I hope walmart goes out of business.. enough with this Chinese krap they sell

    March 30, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      What is best for the country? We have come too far in the making of our products overseas. What is left of American made. We are being poisoned by the wallboard from china and lead poisoning. we cannot keep up for the safety of our children. The answer can only be buy locally. Make better use of labeling of where items originate from. But we as americans have to demand it first.

      March 30, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. bob

    Don't eat too much, you're gonna get fat and I won't like you anymore

    March 30, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. Scottish Mama

    I have never been fat. My,my are you turning to your walmart feminine side.

    March 30, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. bob

    Are you going to start insulting me again

    March 30, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Spock

    I try to be nice with you, and you can't handle it, like the last time, you seem not to like good manners

    March 30, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      I love manners, equality, are you also bob?

      March 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bob

    I'm not a Walmart shopper, we don't have Walmarts down here.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      YOu dont live in the united states? I thought they were on every continent.

      March 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bob

    No I don't, Central America

    March 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      I thought you were telling me you were in hell. United states is like being in hell.

      March 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scottish Mama

    A new walmart is going to put another small business out of business in our state again. And probaly afew more around it.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bob

    I was in Miami last week and it wasn't that bad, Walmart was trying to buy a supermarket chain down here but I don't know what happened, prices of real estate here have been going up real fast.

    March 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      All spectators have been buying up our real estate. They are getting it on the cheap on forclosures and fixing them and sitting on them.

      March 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bob

    Sorry Scottish, was working a little, yes I know, that's a good business, homes in the U S are half their value, its just a question of time, I think that in 6 months things will become better for real estate in the US.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. merry grant

    I hope Walmart wins..
    Look how many women millionaires Walmart created by letting the workers buy stock.
    Look how they have allowed the less fortunate to share in nice things because of their pricing.
    They bring luxury to people who cannot afford department store prices.
    Don't blame Walmart for closing down other stores because there is Kmart, Target and other dollar stores around.
    This is a ploy by greedy attorneys wanting to hit pay dirt. A class action will bring in billions for them, and the person who signs up will get pennies on the dollars.
    I do not like attorneys who are bottom feeders.

    March 30, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
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