Class-action plantiffs doused by justices in standard fire case

Plaintiffs’ lawyers in proposed class actions cannot avoid federal courts by promising to seek less than $5 million in damages, according to a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in Standard Fire Insurance v. Knowles that a plaintiff who files a proposed class action “cannot legally bind members of the proposed class before the class is certified.” The case was closely watched by the nation’s business community because of its potential implications for removals of class actions in state courts to what are generally viewed as more business-friendly federal courts.

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