June 29, 2017
Dow Chemical Opts To Settle $835 Million Lawsuit, Fears Rulings Of A Supreme Court Without Justice Scalia

It seems that corporate giant Dow Chemical would rather pay out $835 million than go before a Supreme Court without Justice Scalia. Dow Chemical has opted to settle an $835 million lawsuit over fears that they would fail to prevail in a Supreme Court without Justice Scalia. Dow Chemical is likely one of many businesses that will be leery of taking a case to the Supreme Court without Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia seated in their favor. With the Supreme Court no longer at a 5-4 conservative majority, the court is split 4-4 with businesses no longer able to bank on the conservative prevailing decision making of America's highest court. Dow Chemical's decision to settle signals concerns by businesses over multiparty lawsuits, which Justice Scalia had championed against for the past decade. With Scalia no longer able to fight with businesses against these multiparty lawsuits, businesses may be less likely to take their chances in a split Supreme Court.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Dow Chemical is not confident in the current eight-person Supreme Court when it comes to class action litigation. Therefore, Dow Chemical has opted to settle a lawsuit for $835 million instead of taking their chances with the newly split Supreme Court. In fact, with the current Supreme court split 4-4 on past multiparty lawsuits, any case presented to the Supreme Court at this time would likely be gridlocked until a ninth Supreme Court Justice is named.

Brian Sandoval Obama Supreme Court Scalia
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly on February 13 (Photo By Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

However, it is currently unknown as to when a new Supreme Court Justice will be put into office as the White House and the Senate are battling over who will name the next Supreme Court Justice. President Obama says he will present a name to the Senate in the next few weeks for consideration, but the Republican Senate majority say that the next president should name the new justice instead of President Obama. Therefore, there is likely to be some push-back from the Senate over any name that President Obama submits for consideration.

As things currently stand, if no new Supreme Court Justice is named and the court remains at a 4-4 split, any lower court decisions will remain intact until the new justice is named. This is really bad news for companies such as Dow Chemical who have relied on the 5-4 conservative majority for class action lawsuits in the past. Scalia helped champion multiparty lawsuit push-back, ruling in favor of big business on issues related to class action suits. This means that cases that are up for appeal, such as the Dow Chemical case, would default back to the original court ruling if the Supreme Court ends the case in a gridlock, which was highly likely due to the 4-4 split.

President Obama paid his respects, but did not attend the funeral mass
President Obama paid his respect following the passing of Justice Scalia. [Photo by Aude Guerrucci/Getty Images]According to Yahoo News, Robert Peck, president of the Center for Constitutional Litigation in Washington, says that many businesses facing class action lawsuits say Justice Antonin Scalia as a "friend" and that his passing has left corporations uncertain about Supreme Court rulings.
"I think most corporations facing class actions regarded Justice Scalia as a friend. He has been a thoroughly consistent vote on their side of the equation."
Back in 2013, Dow Chemical was found liable by a Kansas jury of conspiring to fix prices of polyurethane. As a result of the case, and confidence that Justice Scalia was on their side, Dow petitioned for the Supreme Court to reconsider the ruling. The case was up for judgement but Dow Chemical quickly settled as they claim they are no longer confident in the Supreme Court due the court's current lineup noting Scalia's death has "increased the likelihood for unfavorable outcomes for business involved in class action suits." Therefore, Dow Chemical has decided to settle the case outside of the Supreme Court and will pay $835 million in the case.

Do you think more corporations like Dow Chemical will opt to settle class action lawsuits outside of the Supreme Court due to the current Supreme Court Justice lineup?

[Image by Richard Drew/AP Photo]