A $188 million judgment for damages has Wal-Mart officials asking the United Supreme Court to step in. The dispute started with a Pennsylvania class action lawsuit, involving approximately 187,000 Wal-Mart employees who worked for the company between the years of 1998 and 2006. The employees alleged that they were forced to skip breaks or otherwise denied the statutorily allotted break time.
According to a Reuters report, attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that Wal-Mart’s practices resulted in about 33 million untaken rest breaks. A Pennsylvania jury sided with the employees and came back with the significant damage amounts. Thus far, attempts at an appeal have been unsuccessful, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the verdict award.
Now, Wal-Mart is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and rule on the matter.
- Wal-Mart argues that the verdict amount was determined through “trial by formula,” which is estimation of break times for more than 187,000 workers. The company asserts that the trial court got it wrong and that this type of estimation took away its ability to provide an adequate defense for each alleged incident.
- The plaintiffs argue against any need for appeal. They assert that the trial court was right, asserting that the damage amount was calculated from Wal-Mart’s corporate records and uniform business practices that were admitted into the trial record.
Wal-Mart is supported in this endeavor by The Retail Litigation Center and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both organizations assert that the magnitude of the Wal-Mart verdict will lead to a surge in class action lawsuits against retailers.