Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court handed a loss to Tyson Foods over the company’s challenge to an almost $5.8 million class action judgment in a case won by workers at an Iowa pork-processing facility who contended they were underpaid.
The court, in a 6-2 ruling written by conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, upheld a 2014 appeals court decision in favor of the workers.
It was one of three closely watched class action cases to come before the court during its current term, with business interests urging the justices to rein in such litigation.
Of the three cases, the court has now ruled in two, with businesses losing both times. In January, the court ruled 6-3 against advertising firm Campbell-Ewald, saying a lawsuit could proceed over claims the company violated a federal consumer law by sending unsolicited text messages on behalf of the U.S. Navy.
In the Tyson case, the court was considering an objection to the use of statistics to determine liability and damages. Critics in the business community have described such use of statistics as “trial by formula” that violates defendants’ due process rights, instead of assessing each claim individually for the more than 3,000 current and former employees who are suing.