Last week the Michigan Messenger reported that a Michigan judge cited Wal-Mart v. Dukes in a decision denying class certification for plaintiffs suing Dow Chemical. The plaintiffs claim that a Dow plant released dioxin, a highly toxic carcinogen, into local rivers and lakes. The trial judge in the case previously approved class certification for local residents but stated that Wal-Mart required him to reverse his ruling.
As AFJ noted in a report reviewing the Corporate Court’s 2010-11 term, polluters are not the only corporate defendants cheering the Wal-Mart ruling. African American, Latino and female employees alleging discrimination on the part of retailer Best Buy were forced to agree to an early settlement, fearing a pro-corporate ruling after the Wal-Mart decision. A lawsuit against Costco that was held up pending the Court’s ruling will face much tougher sledding despite strong statistical evidence.
Wal-Mart could also threaten the viability of pending gender discrimination class actions against Goldman Sachs, Toshiba, and Cigna. In addition, mortgage lenders accused of defrauding borrowers could enjoy a stronger shield against accountability.