Spring is the season for SCOTUS, when the court makes its most important decisions of the year. This year, NAM is awaiting decisions on a number of cases in which it has been involved as amicus – a “friend of the court” – and has already achieved an important victory: a ruling in favor energy companies on a procedural issue regarding climate lawsuits.
We spoke with two of NAM’s legal experts, Vice President Legal and Deputy General Counsel Patrick Hedren and Senior Legal Counsel Erica Klenicki, to get a look at this busy season for the Manufacturers Legal Action Center. of NAM.
Energy victory: The court ruled in favor of the energy companies in a lawsuit brought against them by the city of Baltimore. As Hedren puts it, the case hinged on a “flawed procedural question,” but the crux was: where should national issues be debated, especially if the federal government played a role?
- Energy companies and NAM have argued that climate change is a problem nationally and even globally and simply cannot be resolved in state courts. The nature of the question makes access to federal courts paramount.
- The SCOTUS decision did not address the underlying climate issues, but it did allow easier access to federal courts for these types of disputes, say Hedren and Klenicki.
Collective actions: NAM is awaiting Supreme Court rulings on several other cases in which it has participated, including TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, which addresses a key issue for large manufacturers and other businesses: class actions.
- As the NAM legal team notes, these cases are often brought by lawyers seeking a salary, even when the vast majority of the “class” in question, although technically affected, has not really been. hurt.
- This is what happened in this case. The class included people TransUnion mistakenly identified as potential matches with people on the Treasury Department’s Terrorism Watchlist, which could have resulted in loan denials.
- Although the principal claimant allegedly suffered prejudice as a result of this error, most of the 8,000 claimants were not at all aware of the error. The company had corrected its mistake before these plaintiffs were harmed.
Simply put, the rules for class actions are far from clear, say Hedren and Klenicki. Courts often award damages or money for settlement to unharmed people who could not have sued on their own. And the only winner of this system is the Complainants Bar. This is why the NAM asks SCOTUS to clarify the rules for the exercise of a class action and to ensure that the courts of first instance apply rigorous standards before certifying a group.
Freedom of speech: NAM is also awaiting the court’s decision on Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra, a case concerning whether the government can force an organization to disclose the identity of its donors. Although NAM has no donors, it has a vested interest in keeping its membership list confidential. If all of these lists were to be published, it would “chill free speech,” say Hedren and Klenicki.
Following suite (s): Finally, the NAM team is asking the tribunal to hear several other cases during its next term, including:
- Miller v. CH Robinson Worldwide, Inc. In this case, the plaintiff was injured by a truck owned by a small business, but was also allowed to sue the freight broker who hired the trucking company, despite a federal law that prevails over such prosecutions. NAM asks SCOTUS to review the case so that it can place common sense limits on liability.
- City of Oakland, et al. vs. Chevron Corp., et al.: This case is very similar to the energetic case mentioned above.
The last word: Hedren explains why NAM’s participation in our country’s highest court is so important: “The Supreme Court really appreciates the point of view of the manufacturing sector, in part because bad decisions from a single lower court can have negative effects. training on the whole economy. NAM pays particular attention to cases that could really change – for better or for worse – the way the industry operates, or which could open the door for cunning lawyers to abuse the justice system. If we do not fight for better legal policy, we will be faced with an increasingly pro-gambling and abuse-inclined legal system. “