The U.S. Supreme Court opens its 2013 Term, October 7, and on deck are several cases with significant implications for people 50 and older. Some of the cases address questions left unanswered by previous Supreme Court decisions. Others involve substantive rights. Still others involve procedural issues such as statute of limitations and appropriate standard of review of actions which can all but determine whether a law suit will be brought at all. AARP has prepared a summary of those cases, as well as cases the Court may also agree to hear. The full report, prepared by AARP Foundation Litigation, can be found at http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/aarp_foundation/litigation/pdf-beg-01-09-2013/Supreme-Court-Preview-2013.pdf
During its first week, the Court will take up several of the cases which impact AARP members.
The Court will hear arguments in Madigan v. Levin, which addresses whether the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) provides the excusive vehicle for asserting federal age discrimination claims – that is, whether such claims can also be brought under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or only under ADEA. The underlying dispute in Madigan is a claim brought by a former state employee who charged that he was terminated because of his age. A trial court dismissed his ADEA claim on the ground that he fit within a statutory exemption applicable to high-ranking “policy-making level” employees and, therefore, was not protected by the ADEA – a ruling he expected might happen. To protect himself, he had also invoked the Equal Protection Clause, which provides that governments (in this case, Levin’s state government employer) may not treat people in similar situations differently. The U.S. Court of Appeals agreed that Levin could sue for age discrimination pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause, and the State of Illinois appealed. AARP’s friend-of-the-court brief argues that the Seventh Circuit correctly decided that the ADEA was never intended to be exclusive remedy for age discrimination.
Another case slated for argument is Chadbourne & Park LLP v. Troice, one of three cases consolidated in the now-captioned Roland v. Green litigation. The three suits involve a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme perpetrated by R. Allen Stanford through various corporate entities. The scheme involved the sales of fraudulently marketed Certificates of Deposit (CDs) that were rife with misrepresentations. The question was whether these CDs met the definition of securities under the federal Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (SLUSA) – if so, they were exempt from fraud claims brought under state anti-fraud laws seeking recourse for misrepresentations, omissions, and fraud. A trial court found that while they were not technically covered securities, the CDs walked and talked like securities and thus were SLUSA covered. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit disagreed, ruling that the trial court had too broadly extended SLUSA’s coverage. AARP’s friend-of-the-court brief urges the Court to uphold the appellate court’s ruling. Allowing issuers of private investment vehicles like these CDs to invoke the protection of SLUSA would not advance the purposes of SLUSA (which is to provide uniformity in securities market enforcement), would only create additional obstacles for defrauded investors, and undermine the role of state-based private securities laws in protecting investors from ever-changing fraudulent investment schemes.