The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision today in Microsoft v. Baker finding in favor of Microsoft. This case involved a procedural issue relevant to class actions, but we think it has important ramifications about judicial balance.
We want to take a moment to explain why we thought it was important to bring this case to the court.
The issue in this case was whether plaintiffs and defendants should be on an even playing field when it comes to appealing decisions about class certification. Several years ago, Congress gave both parties the right to ask Courts of Appeals to review class certification decisions when they are made – before the conclusion of the case. If the Court of Appeals decides not to hear that discretionary appeal, the case goes forward, and each party has the right to appeal an adverse class certification decision after the trial is over.
In this case, however, the Court of Appeals decided not to hear the plaintiffs’ initial class certification appeal. Rather than pursuing their case to trial, the plaintiffs dismissed it, arguing they had the right to appeal class certification again, and then revive their dismissed claims if they won that appeal. This tactic is not only inconsistent with the process Congress created, as the court found, it is unfair because it gives plaintiffs an appeal opportunity unavailable to defendants.
This case was about following procedural rules that Congress established and that work for everyone. No party should be able to do an end-run around these rules and have rights that the other party doesn’t get. We’re grateful to the Supreme Court for its time and consideration of this issue.