Toobin: High Court addressed only class size, not discrimination, in Wal-Mart suit
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a class-action lawsuit involving hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs was simply too large.
June 20th, 2011
11:41 AM ET

Toobin: High Court addressed only class size, not discrimination, in Wal-Mart suit

The Supreme Court on Monday put the brakes on a massive job discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart.  The suit was the largest class-action suit in U.S. history - and, says Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's senior legal analyst, therein lies the problem.

Toobin, who was in the courtroom for opening arguments in March, spoke on "CNN Newsroom" after the high court's ruling was announced.  He shared his initial impressions of the ruling and noted that he was still reading the "complicated" decision.

He said the class-action status - potentially involving hundreds of thousands of female workers - was too large.

"The Supreme Court has basically said this is too big a case," Toobin said. "The facts are so different regarding each of the plaintiffs that it’s not fair to Wal-Mart to lump them into one case."

The decision in Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes (10-277) did not represent the usual political divisions within the high court, Toobin said. The nine justices simply thought the class was too big under the rules governing class-action suits.

"The decision was 5-4, in part, but it was basically unanimous that the case had to be thrown out," Toobin said, adding that the court did not rule on whether Wal-Mart had ever discriminated.

The ruling was not a surprise. In March, Toobin predicted the case would be thrown out, based on the Supreme Court justices' responses to oral arguments.

The case could be resuscitated, Toobin said, but attorneys would have to "figure out another way to get the courts to consider the possibility that there was enormous gender discrimination at Wal-Mart."

"That conversation will continue. This lawsuit in its current form will not," he added, saying the lawsuit could be reconfigured into several smaller lawsuits, which would pose less of a threat to Wal-Mart.

"This was a case that even a company as big as Wal-Mart had to fear in terms of the financial repercussions. But now, they don't have to fear that any more, and Wal-Mart and its directors are certainly breathing very easy today," Toobin said.

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Filed under: Courts • Justice • Lawsuit • Supreme Court • U.S.
soundoff (189 Responses)
  1. THINK

    "United we stand, Divided we fall" says it all. Thrown out the window.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. john

    @Think: that's just an ignorant comment, in the first place what does shopping at Walmart have to do with being lazy? In the second place most of the people I've seen shopping in Walmart were welfare recipients, I'm sure most of them are democrats. Oh wait I guess you can't call shoplifting shopping can you?

    June 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shelia Curd

      John did you know that there are more white recipients of welfare than any other race. Its not about race, John, its about surviving . You should pray for the people that have to receive welfare. Not make mockery of them. You know in this day and time, watch out, because you might be one of those WELFARE RECIPIENTS one day. God bless you and dont be so quick to judge. Im just saying !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shelia Curd

    Please contact me, if you want a story I truly have one for you. It is about my nephew who is in prison. Now I give you the opportunity to write about this. This is BIG. Ive written lots of people with no response and now you. Also if you will just respond, I have told my nephew you get first dibs on everything. Thank you, Bless you. I know you wear the little black hat so I ll close by saying whoever you serve may he or she be with you always.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
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