Law360 Quotes James Tysse on SCOTUS Tyson Decision

For its article “Attorneys React To High Court's Tyson Class Action Ruling,” Law360 quoted Akin Gump Supreme Court and appellate partner James Tysse on the significance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-2 affirmation of a $5.8 million judgment against Tyson Foods.

Tyson Foods Inc. v. Bouaphakeo et al., although a class action suit concerning the employer’s reported non-compensation of certain employees for donning and doffing gear specific to the task a worker performs on a given day, pivoted on the question of whether the district court had erred in certifying and maintaining the class based on averages and other statistical analyses to tie together disparate class members.

The Court, in Justice Kennedy’s opinion, noted in affirming:

This case presents no occasion for adoption of broad and categorical rules governing the use of representative and statistical evidence in class actions. Rather, the ability to use a representative sample to establish classwide liability will depend on the purpose for which the sample is being introduced and on the underlying cause of action. In FLSA actions, inferring the hours an employee has worked from a study such as [industrial relations expert Dr. Kenneth] Mericle’s has been permitted by the Court so long as the study is otherwise admissible.

Tysse noted, regarding the decision, “As indicated by the lopsided 6-2 vote in this extremely contentious area of the law, the Supreme Court issued a narrow decision that rejects the 'broad and categorical rules governing the use of representative and statistical evidence' advocated by both sides — and which thus broke little new ground.”