Class actions expected to rise this year

Landmark Wal-Mart decision didn’t seem to slow class action litigation

To the surprise of some, class actions are likely to rise in the coming year—at least that’s what a recent report by Seyfarth Shaw is predicting.

In its 9th Annual Class Action Litigation Report, which analyzes the court decisions in workplace law in 1,059 class actions in federal and state courts in 2012, the firm identifies several trends it expects to see in 2013. Those trends included a rise in overall employment-related class action litigation, despite the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes.

“Marked by the halo effect of Wal-Mart, this past year created a number of lasting changes in employment law that will continue to alter the legal landscape and litigation strategies for employers in 2013,” said Gerald L. Maatman Jr., co-chair of Syfarth’s Class Action Defense group and author of the report. “Meanwhile, wage and hour claims continue to rise with no sign of a crest in lawsuit filings and the EEOC’s renewed focus on systemic investigations also pose high-stakes challenges for employers.”

Here are a few of the firm’s predictions for employment-related class action litigation in 2013:

  1. As a result of Wal-Mart and AT&T v. Concepcion, “a new wave of creative case law theories… will continue to evolve and impact employers in the defense of their cases in 2013,” the report says.
  2. Government enforcement activity was rampant in 2012, and it’s expected to accelerate even more this year.
  3. As Wal-Mart changed settlement strategies for these class actions, with employers settling fewer such cases, “the plaintiffs’ class action bar is “re-booting” its approach to class litigation and this trend may reverse itself in 2013,” the report says.
  4. As the economy continues to struggle, the already-established trend of increasing numbers of class action suits is expected to continue.

See more trends and other report highlights at Seyfarth Shaw.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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