Supreme Court issues significant class certification ruling in antitrust case

Today in a 5-4 decision in the much anticipated Comcast v. Behrend case, the Supreme Court rejected a class of millions of Comcast subscribers seeking nearly a billion dollars in antitrust damages, holding that at the class certification stage district courts must conduct a rigorous, merits-based analysis of any damages model that purports to show damages are “measurable on a class-wide basis through use of a common methodology.” In doing so, the Court extended its mandate from the landmark decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, making clear that district courts must consider and resolve merits questions related to expert damages analysis at the class certification stage where they overlap with the requirements of Rule 23. The Court specifically rejected the Third Circuit’s holding that an “attack on the merits of the methodology had no place in the class certification inquiry.” The Court stopped short, however, of specifically holding that the admissibility standard of Daubert v. Merrell Dow applies to expert testimony on damages at the class certification stage, potentially because Comcast did not object on Daubert grounds to the admissibility of the expert evidence in the district court.

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