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Supreme Court Term Opens With Many Critical Cases Before It

Some likely to affect seniors

The rights of federal employees are under scrutiny in Kloeckner v. Solis, in which an employee of the federal Department of Labor filed an administrative complaint alleging a hostile work environment and discrimination on account of age and sex, and later alleged retaliation related to her having filed the complaint in the first place. She sought to bring the case in federal court because it is a so-called "mixed case" (alleging both civil rights claims and employer misconduct under federal civil service laws). A federal trial court ruled that Kloeckner could not seek relief in the courts until her case had been decided administratively. While AARP does not anticipate filing a brief in the case, this is one worth watching.

Whether employees who receive medical benefits must repay their health plans for the total amount of the benefits regardless of the amount of the recovery they obtain from a third party is the question in US Airways v. McCutcheon. The question is whether the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) — the law governing employee benefits — can permit a health plan to recover all benefits paid from the participant even if the participant has to reach into his or her pocket. AARP will argue that the law prevents both fiduciaries and beneficiaries from reaping unwarranted windfalls.

AARP plans to file a brief in a case that addresses the extent to which plaintiffs must demonstrate the merits of their claims at the class certification phase when prosecuting securities-fraud allegations in connection with transactions involving publicly traded securities. Investors challenged Amgen's omissions of disclosures and the truth of actual representations pertaining to two of the company's pharmaceutical products in Amgen v. Conn. Ret. Plans & Trust Funds. The company making the representations argued that plaintiffs must show not only that the representations upon which they relied were fraudulent, but that they were also material to the investors' claimed losses before the court can certify the action as a class action. AARP's amicus brief will argue that materiality is not a proper question at the class certification stage but rather that it is a question for later in the proceedings.

Olivea Marx filed a complaint under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) after General Revenue Corporation (GRC) sought to collect a student loan. Marx said she was subjected to threatening phone calls as well as a fax sent to her employer seeking information about her employment status. A trial court agreed with GRC that the fax to her employer did not violate the law. Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 54(d) the court ordered Marx to pay GRC's court costs. AARP's amicus brief in Marx v. Gen. Revenue Corp. argues that the FDCPA prevents the costs from being shifted to a losing FDCPA plaintiff unless the lawsuit was filed in bad faith and for the purposes of harassment.

Next: Comcast Corp. v. Behrend and more cases. »

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Legal Cases

Find the most recent cases in which AFL has advocated in courts nationwide for the rights of older persons, and filed AARP’s amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs that help courts decide precedent-setting cases.

Strengthening Law and Policy through
Legal Advocacy

Our legal advocacy initiatives  - conducted by AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL) - reflect more than 15 years of work in federal and state courts across the country. Through our efforts, we support the Foundation’s four priority areas: Hunger, Income, Housing and Isolation, and ensure that those 50 and older have a voice in the laws and policies that affect their daily lives.