THE VILLAGES – The US Supreme Court has issued an opinion on class action lawsuits in favor of local law firms Varnell and Warwick Associates.
Class actions allow individuals to band together to sue large corporations, which often individuals cannot afford.
“In the end it was … there was no argument about whether it was a good claim, enough evidence, or a good case,” said Janet Varnell. “It has been a battle over whether the state courts can be trusted to handle cases they have been handling for hundreds of years.”
Citibank, NA, filed a debt collection lawsuit against George Jackson in the North Carolina state court. He countered in a class action lawsuit filed by a third party alleging that Home Depot USA Inc. and Carolina Water Systems Inc. committed unfair and misleading trading practices with illegal sales recommendations.
Home Depot wanted to move the case to federal court. Varnell and Warwick argued that the construction supplier could not move the case under class action law.
It was a very complex third party lawsuit case that involved examining the definition of the term “accused”.
“The reason we won this state-federal court battle is because our position has been the law for more than 40 years,” Varnell said.
Judge Samuel Alito wrote the dissenting opinion.
“The rule of law requires neutral forums to settle disputes,” he wrote. “Dishes should offer just that. However, our legal system takes seriously the risk that in certain cases some neutral forums will be more neutral than others. Or it could appear so, which is almost as harmful. For example, a party filing a lawsuit in the courts of its own state might enjoy a home advantage over outsiders, so to speak. “
Alito noted that defendants can only postpone a case if they meet certain requirements. “Some of these conditions have long made it virtually impossible to resolve important (and often costly) consumer class actions. Concerned that the state courts were biased against defendants for such acts, Congress passed law to facilitate their removal. “
That law was the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, he noted.
“What worries me most is that the dissent implies that a defendant may not get a fair and impartial trial in a state court,” Varnell said.
“It is shocking that Justice Alito and the other Conservative members of the court would promote this myth at a time when Americans so clearly distrust our government institutions. This is the new normal. Supreme Court justices willing to distort the longstanding law to protect big business at the expense of confidence in our judicial system. “
The conservative judiciary Clarence Thomas formed the majority together with the liberals Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Alito joined the minority view with Chief Justice John Roberts and Judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Citibank dropped its lawsuit against Jackson and excluded the finance company from the case.
The lawsuit alleges that Home Depot and its partners lied to people by telling them that the water in their area was causing cancer, in order to sell them a water treatment system that is almost ten times its price tag over Lied about the financing terms and lied about the transfer system that was supposed to lower the price
The law firm works with lawyers across the country on class action lawsuits. It describes itself on its website as a “public interest advocate” created to “protect people and the environment, challenge misconduct by governments, businesses and individuals, and improve access to justice”.
Varnell is a 1984 graduate of Leesburg High School. She is married to legal partner Brian Warwick.