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High court hears dispute over class actions

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm •  Published: January 7, 2013

The Supreme Court has in recent years backed limits on class actions, most notably in the 2011 decision that stopped a suit against Wal-Mart involving up to 1.6 million of its female employees who complained of sex discrimination.

In Monday's argument, Standard Fire seemed to draw support from liberal and conservative justices. Questioning Frederick, Justice Stephen Breyer said he worries that the promise of a $5 million limit "is just a loophole because it swallows up all of Congress's statute."

Justice Elena Kagan was the strongest voice in support of the homeowner, and she repeatedly challenged Theodore Boutrous Jr., the lawyer for the company. Kagan told Boutrous he should be asking Congress for help, not the court. "This is a kind of a jerry-rigged solution to get at a problem that Congress, in fact, did not address," Kagan said.

A decision is expected by late June.

The case is Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles, 11-1450.