University of Colorado Law Professor involved in Wal-mart v. Dukes Supreme Court Case

March 7, 2011

Boulder – University of Colorado Law School Professor Melissa Hart has filed an amicus – or friend of the court – brief with the United States Supreme Court in the case of Wal-Mart v. Dukes on behalf of 31 Civil Procedure and Class Action Law Professors. Signatories also include CU Law Professors Sarah Krakoff and Scott Moss. The 39-page brief focuses on the appropriate construction of Rule 23, particularly in light of the overall structure and purpose of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Rule 23, as it pertains to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, holds that one or more members of a class action may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all members if: 1)      The class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable, 2)      There are questions of law or fact common to the class 3)      The claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and 4)      The representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.

As law professors and scholars with expertise in civil procedure and class action law, the 31 professors named as amici all support the filing of the class action suit under Rule 23. Together, they are concerned about access to the courts as a crucial means of enforcing substantive law, as well as the proper interpretation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to ensure the efficient adjudication of disputes.

The professors who signed onto the brief are scholars at law schools around the United States who teach and write in Civil Procedure, Complex Litigation, Employment Discrimination and related subjects.

Wal-Mart v. Dukes is the largest civil rights class action lawsuit in U.S. history. Begun in 2000, it charges Wal-Mart with discriminating against women in promotions and pay in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The named Plaintiffs in the case represent women who work or have worked at Wal-Mart since December 1998. Wal-Mart has argued that the suit does not meet the criteria for a class action lawsuit. The company’s arguments have been rejected by the district court and both a panel and an en banc decision in the Ninth Circuit. In December 2010, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Wal-Mart’s appeal of class action status in Wal-Mart v. Dukes.

“Many of us who teach law don’t always have time to practice it in the courtroom,” said Hart. “However, we remain keenly aware of the principles behind the law and the importance of careful legal development. When we see an opportunity to weigh in on a matter of this magnitude, it shows our students that we believe in the ideals behind what we teach and that we continue to play a role in shaping the law, even as we study it.”

Professor Hart volunteered her time to prepare the amicus brief in keeping with the school’s spirit of public service. As a public institution, many of the professors and faculty members volunteer their time in their areas of expertise. The University of Colorado Law School Public Service Pledge Program asks students to volunteer at least 50 hours of law-related public service work, not for credit or other compensation, during their college career. IN 2011, more than 90 percent of the student body took the pledge.

The University of Colorado Law School Public Service Pledge Program asks students to volunteer at least 50 hours of law-related public service work, not for credit or other compensation, during their college career. IN 2011, more than 90 percent of the student body took the pledge.

The named professors in the Amicus brief are:

Melissa Hart, Associate Professor and Director of the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law, University of Colorado Law School

Alexandra Lahav, Professor of Law, University of Connecticut Law School

Arthur R. Miller, University Professor, New York University Law School

Paul M. Secunda, Associate Professor of Law, Marquette University Law School

Adam Steinman, Professor of Law and Michael J. Zimmer Fellow, Seton Hall University Law School

Barbara A. Babcock, Judge John Crown Professor of Law, Emerita, Stanford Law School

Mark S. Brodin, Professor and Lee Distinguished Scholar, Boston College Law School

Paul Carrington, Professor of Law, Duke Law School

Robin Effron, Assistant Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

Timothy P. Glynn, Miriam T. Rooney Professor of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law

Helen Hershkoff, Herbert M. and Svetlana Wachtell Professor of Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties, New York University School of Law

Michael Hoffheimer, Professor of Law and Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association Distinguished Lecturer, University of Mississippi School of Law

Allan Ides, Christopher N. May Professor of Law, Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Sarah Krakoff, Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School

Nancy Levit, Curators' and Edward D. Ellison Professor of Law University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

Brendan Maher, Assistant Professor of Law, Oklahoma City School of Law

Suzette Malveaux, Associate Professor, Columbus School of Law

David Marcus, Associate Professor of Law, University of Arizona Rogers College of Law

Christopher May, Professor of Law Emeritus, Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Marcia McCormick, Associate Professor of Law, St. Louis University School of Law

Carrie Menkel-Meadow, A.B. Chettle Jr. Professor of Law, Dispute Resolution and Civil Procedure, Georgetown University Law Center, and Chancellor’s Professor of Law, University of California at Irvine

Scott Moss, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Law School

Radha Pathak, Assistant Professor, Whittier Law School Alexander Reinert, Associate Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Elizabeth M. Schneider, Rose L. Hoffer Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

David Schwartz, Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin School of Law

Edward F. Sherman, W.R. Irby Professor of Law, Tulane Law School

A. Benjamin Spencer, Professor of Law, Washington & Lee School of Law

Charles Sullivan, Andrew J. Catania Professor of Law, Seton Hall University Law School

Jay Tidmarsh, Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School

About University of Colorado Law School Established in 1892, the University of Colorado Law School (www.colorado.edu/law) is a top 25 public law school located at the base of the inspiring Rocky Mountains. Colorado Law’s 500 students, selected from among the statistically best applicants in the nation, represent 100 undergraduate institutions and diverse backgrounds. The school has dual degree programs in business, environmental studies, telecommunications, and public affairs. With a low faculty-to-student ratio, its highly published faculty is dedicated to interacting with students inside and outside the classroom. The school’s 8 clinics and 4 centers focus on areas of strength, including natural resources and environmental, American Indian, juvenile and family, telecommunications policy, and sustainable energy law. Colorado Law’s graduates are leaders in their profession and committed to public interest work.

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