The United States Supreme Court ruled today on the side of business interests in a controversial case over handling of class action lawsuits arising in Miller County, Arkansas. Here's the decision. In short, the decision makes it easier for defendants to move class action cases from state to federal court.
The suggestion has been that "home cooking" in state courts has worked to the benefit of plaintiffs' lawyers in class action cases, particularly in shielding some of the particulars about fees paid lawyers in the cases. They've made vast sums over the years. Until this ruling, a stipulation by a plaintiffs' lawyer that cumulative damages being sought were less than $5 million was enough to defeat a transfer of a case from state to federal court.
The Supreme Court ruling was unanimous. It said the stipulation wasn't enough and that a federal court could compute potential damages on its own and determine if they met the $5 million threshold that allowed removal of a case to federal court.
The case drew attention for a variety of reasons in Arkansas, including the role played by John Goodson, a successfulTexarkana trial lawyer. He's married to Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson, who attended Supreme Court arguments in the case.
Here's a typical background article on the Standard Fire case, one of several that referred to the judicial "hell hole" in Arkansas.
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