Supreme Court Round-Up: A Summary of Recent Opinions, Upcoming Arguments, and Other Developments – April 2010

April 27, 2010

As the Supreme Court enters the homestretch of this Term and approaches its busiest season for issuing opinions, Gibson Dunn’s Supreme Court Round-Up is summarizing key developments at the Court.  Since the last edition of the Round-Up, the Court has issued opinions in the following argued cases:

  • Merck & Co. v. ReynoldsThe Court held that under 28 U.S.C § 1658(b)(1)–a limitations statute governing private securities fraud actions–"a cause of action accrues (1) when the plaintiff did in fact discover, or (2) when a reasonably diligent plaintiff would have discovered, ‘the facts constituting the violation,’" whichever comes first.  The Court also held that the phrase "facts constituting the violation" includes the fact of scienter.
  • Stolt-Nielsen S.A. v. AnimalFeeds International Corp.: The Court held that a party may not be compelled under the Federal Arbitration Act "to submit to class arbitration unless there is a contractual basis for concluding that the party agreed to do so."  The Court also concluded that, in this case, "where the parties stipulated that there was ‘no agreement’ on this question, it follows that the parties cannot be compelled to submit their dispute to class arbitration."
  • Jerman v. Carlisle, McNellie, Rini, Kramer & Ulrich LPA:  The Court held that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s "bona fide error" defense, 15 U.S.C. § 1692k(c), does not apply to violations that result from a debt collector’s mistaken interpretation of the Act’s legal requirements.
  • Perdue v. Kenny A.:  The Court held that, under federal fee-shifting statutes, an attorney’s fee that has been calculated based on the "lodestar" approach may be increased only in "extraordinary circumstances."
  • Conkright v. Frommert:  The Court held that a pension plan administrator’s interpretation of the plan is entitled to deference, despite the fact that the administrator’s earlier interpretation was held unreasonable under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA").
  • United States v. StevensThe Court held that 18 U.S.C. § 48, which criminalizes the commercial creation, sale, or possession of certain depictions of animal cruelty, is substantially overbroad and therefore invalid under the First Amendment.
  • Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates, P.A. v. Allstate Insurance Co.The Court held that a New York statute prohibiting class actions in suits seeking penalties or statutory minimum damages conflicts with, and is superseded by, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, which provides the general criteria for class action suits in federal court.
  • Padilla v. KentuckyThe Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires defense counsel to inform a criminal defendant whether his guilty plea carries a risk of deportation.
  • Jones v. Harris Associates L.P.:  The Court held that to face liability under § 36(b) of the Investment Company Act of 1940, 15 U.S.C. § 80a-35(b), an investment advisor must charge a fee that is so disproportionately large that it bears no reasonable relationship to the services rendered and could not have been the product of arm’s length bargaining.
  • Berghuis v. SmithThe Court held that the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision concluding that a criminal defendant failed to establish a prima facie violation of the fair-cross-section requirement of the Sixth Amendment did not involve an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law.
  • Graham County Soil & Water Conservation District v. United States ex rel. WilsonThe Court held that the reference to "administrative" reports, audits, and investigations in the public-disclosure bar to qui tam actions under the False Claims Act encompasses disclosures made in state and local sources as well as federal sources.

Spearheaded by former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, the Supreme Court Round-Up is updated each month to keep clients apprised of the Court’s most recent actions.  The Round-Up recaps each of this Term’s opinions, previews the cases scheduled for the upcoming 2010 Term, and tracks the actions of the highly influential Office of the Solicitor General.  The Round-Up provides a concise, substantive analysis of the Court’s actions.  Its easy-to-use format allows the reader to identify what is on the Court’s docket at any given time, and to see what issues the Court will be taking up next.  The Round-Up is the ideal resource for busy practitioners seeking an in-depth, timely, and objective report on the Court’s actions. 

To view the Round-Up, click here.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Gibson Dunn’s Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice Group is one of the nation’s leading appellate practices.  In recognition of its achievements, Gibson Dunn was named the 2010 Litigation Department of the Year by American Lawyer, with the appellate practice described as "perhaps the firm’s greatest asset."  The preeminence of Gibson Dunn’s Appellate Group is also underscored by its placement on The National Law Journal’s "2008 Appellate Hot List," a first-time survey of top appellate law practices.

Our Supreme Court statistics speak for themselves.  In the 2007 Term, Gibson Dunn went 3-0.  In the 2008 Term, Gibson Dunn argued six cases — winning four, including the recent win in a case challenging the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation, where the Court took the extraordinary step of ordering re-argument.  Gibson Dunn’s seven oral arguments in the 2008 Term were more than any other law firm (tied in cases handled, at six).  Moreover, while the grant rate for cert petitions is below 1%, Gibson Dunn has persuaded the Court to grant its cert petitions more than 30 percent of the time in the last five years.

Gibson Dunn’s lawyers are available to assist in addressing any questions you may have regarding developments at the Supreme Court.  Please feel free to contact the following attorneys in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, or any member of the Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice Group.

Theodore B. Olson (202.955.8500, [email protected])
Amir C. Tayrani (202.887.3692, [email protected])
Ryan J. Watson (202.955.8295, [email protected])

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