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Robin Cantor Signs Amicus Brief Cited in Supreme Court’s Tyson Foods Decision

March 23, 2016
Supreme Court of the United States

BRG economist Robin Cantor contributed to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the respondents in the matter of Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo et al. (No. 14-1146). This matter, decided by the Court in a 6–2 majority on March 22, 2016, is a class action under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Petitioner Tyson Foods and various amici in support of petitioner argued that the use of “average” or statistical evidence is unreliable as a matter of law for class actions. Dr. Cantor joined other prominent economists and social scientists to recommend that the Court not cast doubt on statistical and empirical methods as a general matter, whether in class actions or otherwise. The Brief for Economists et al. (the Brief) emphasized that statistical tools and statistical analysis of empirical data are valuable, informative, and used reliably and routinely in many academic, professional, regulatory, and litigation contexts. The Brief also highlighted that the reliability of statistical evidence is inherently context dependent and that a number of effective gatekeeper functions are currently in place in the litigation context to ensure that such evidence is evaluated properly. In the decision, the Court cited the Brief for the finding that it “would reach too far were it to establish general rules governing the use of statistical evidence, or so-called representative evidence, in all class-action cases. Evidence of this type is used in various substantive realms of the law” (p. 10). 

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