There were several big winners in the Supreme Court’s recently-completed term, and unfortunately for ordinary folks, most of the winners were the giants in Corporate America. Giant retailer Wal-Mart Inc., telecommunications company AT&T Inc. and coal power companies were the biggest winners having large lawsuits against them rejected. The High Court threw out the largest sex-discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history by Wal-Mart’s female employees, ruled for AT&T in favoring arbitration over big class actions and ended a global warming lawsuit against the utilities. Despite a very few losses, big business prevailed in the largest cases.
Consumer advocacy groups have alleged that the Court’s five-member conservative majority shielded companies from suits seeking to protect workers, consumers and the environment. It was said by one such group that “the instinct to protect business interests often comes at the expense of ordinary citizens looking for justice.” Other rulings held a mutual fund’s investment adviser cannot be sued for securities fraud over misstatements in fund prospectuses and gave greater protection to generic drug companies and vaccine makers from liability lawsuits. If these sound like anti-consumer decisions, it’s because that’s exactly what they were.
Many pro-business rulings came by a 5-4 vote, splitting along ideological lines that have divided the Court for years. One bloc consists of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy. The other faction consists of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The Court has adjourned for its traditional summer recess and is scheduled to return to the bench in October for a new term.
Source: Insurance Journal
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