Wal-Mart v. Hummel/Braun
Issue: Class Action Standards
Court: Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Whether, in a purported class action tried to verdict, it violates Pennsylvania law (including the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure) to subject Wal-Mart to a "Trial by Formula" that relieves Plaintiffs of their burden to produce class-wide "common" evidence on key elements of their claims.
Following a Pennsylvania lower court's "trial by formula" decision, the RLC asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to recognize that a minuscule sample (6 out of 187,000) is not a sufficient sample to establish that a large group of employees are a class with claims susceptible to common resolution. Two state retail associations joined the RLC brief.
The Court found that the "trial by formula" process disapproved by the U.S. Supreme Court in Dukes was not used in the current case because this case concerns evidence relating to damages whereas the evidence in Dukes related to liability. The Court concluded that both parties had opportunities to explain discrepancies in the evidence presented, therefore Wal-Mart was not denied its due process rights. The Court further found that the lack of commonality at issue in Dukes was not present here. One Justice dissented and agreed with Wal-Mart that the Court applied extremely lax standards to a case involving a $2M verdict.
Procedural History and Case Documents: