Cleary Gottlieb Files Amici Curiae Brief on Behalf of the U.S. Technology Industry’s Leading Associations Urging the Supreme Court to Review “No-Injury” Class Actions

November 6, 2013

On November 6, Cleary Gottlieb filed an amici curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Technology Association of America (“TechAmerica”) and TechNet, urging the Court to grant review to two related decisions from the Sixth and Seventh Circuits—In re Whirlpool Corp. Front-Loading Washer Products Liability Litigation and Sears, Roebuck and Co. v. Butler—to address the question whether a federal court can certify a “no-injury” class action lawsuit. The Sixth and Seventh Circuits answered that question in the affirmative, holding that a court could certify a class action challenging the design of front-loading washing machines without a showing that any significant percentage of the class members experienced the defect or suffered injury or incurred damages as a result of it. Their decisions will enable plaintiffs’ lawyers to bring class action lawsuits every time an innovative product develops a minor defect that harms a small percentage of consumers or none at all.

Cleary Gottlieb’s amici brief alerts the Supreme Court to the detrimental effect these “no-injury” class actions will have upon the U.S. technology industry. The brief explains the technology industry’s importance to the U.S. economy and how the technology industry is particularly vulnerable to product defect lawsuits due to the complex, evolving, and open-ended nature of the products it produces. It also explains that certifying massive classes of plaintiffs based on a minor defect that affects only a small percentage of class members will chill the ability to innovate upon which the technology industry depends. Finally, it contends that the success of various market-driven solutions for protecting consumers against product defects—such as insurance or free patches or updates—renders these no-injury class actions unnecessary and socially and economically detrimental.

The amici brief can be accessed here.