DTD v. Wells: Historical Curiosity or Important Protection Against "Judicial Blackmail"?
May 3, 2010Vano I. Haroutunian, Avraham Z. Cutler
Initially, Justice Kennedy’s separate opinion in DTD Enterprises v. Wells, which argued that in a class action a defendant cannot be forced to pay notice costs based solely on plaintiff’s poverty, was chiefly noted for being the first opinion joined by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Commentators noted the case as a possible preview of Justice Sotomayor’s views, in particular how sympathetic she was to the rights of class action defendants. Putting aside its use as a crystal ball for Justice Sotomayor’s views, DTD has the potential to be a significant opinion in its own right, and businesses that currently believe they are forced to choose between financing lawsuits against themselves or giving into “judicial blackmail” and settling unmeritorious lawsuits think the decision may help solve these problems.