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Press Release

Alaska Joins Brief Supporting Enforcement of United States Supreme Court's Requirements for Class Actions

October 14, 2011

Anchorage, Alaska - The State of Alaska joined a brief in support of requiring class-action plaintiffs to satisfy requirements that the United States Supreme Court emphasized in a recent decision.

At the direction of Attorney General John Burns, the state joined the brief filed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Alaska joined Massachusetts and several other states in asserting that a federal judge in Texas failed to apply the proper requirements for certifying classes of plaintiffs.

The federal judge in Texas certified a class of “all children who are now and all children who will be” in prolonged foster care through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.  The judge certified the class 18 days before the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes.  In Wal-Mart the Court held that a district court erred in certifying a class of approximately 1.5 million current and former employees who claimed the company discriminated in pay and promotion practices.  According to the Court, certifying that class was improper because the plaintiffs failed to identify a company policy resulting in “a common mode of exercising discretion that pervades the entire company.”

In joining the amicus brief filed by Massachusetts, Alaska is asking the Fifth Circuit to apply the same requirement to the Texas case.

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