February 26, 2008
Washington, D.C. (February 26, 2008) Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, whose global employment law department is best known for winning high-stakes employment cases, today scored a U.S. Supreme Court victory for Sprint Nextel in an age discrimination case involving so-called me, too evidence.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the United States Court of Appeals erroneously overturned a trial verdict in Sprints favor. The trial judge in Kansas had excluded testimony from other laid off employees alleging that they, too, were victims of discrimination, on the ground that those others who had different supervisors/decisionmakers were not similarly situated with the plaintiff. Sprint had prevailed at trial, but the Tenth Circuit had reversed, holding that me, too evidence always must be admitted. The Supreme Court now has reversed that decision.
In vacating the ruling by the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court has re-established the primacy of the trial courts on evidentiary matters such as this, said Paul Cane, the lead counsel for Sprint and the head of the appellate practice at the law firm Paul Hastings.
Cane added, While the Court did not conclusively resolve how trial courts should resolve similar issues in future cases, the Court did explain that evidence should be excluded as irrelevant if it is not closely related to plaintiffs circumstances, and that even relevant evidence should be excluded if it would cause unfair prejudice, confuse the issues, or waste trial time.
The case will be sent back to the district court, where the trial judge will rearticulate its reasoning for excluding the testimony.
About Sprint Nextel: Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including two robust wireless networks serving 54 million customers at the end of 2007; industry-leading mobile data services; instant national and international walkie-talkie capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. For more information, visit www.sprint.com.
About Paul Hastings Employment Law Department: With more than 200 lawyers, Paul Hastings has one of the largest and most accomplished employment practices globally. It was named "Global Labour and Employment Law Firm of the Year" in 2006 and 2007 by The International Whos Who of Business Lawyers. Chambers USA 2007 described the practice as an absolutely top-tier outfit and the premier class action firm in the country. In 2008, The American Lawyer characterized the department as the master of all trades. Many of the departments partners have been elected to membership in The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and/or American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, and 31 are listed in The Best Lawyers in America.
Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, founded in 1951, is a leading international law firm with over 1,200 attorneys in 18 offices. The firm serves a diverse client base including many of the leading global financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies and offers deep capabilities in capital markets, finance and restructuring, intellectual property, international arbitration and dispute resolution, investment management, labor and employment, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, product liability, project finance, real estate, securities litigation and tax advisory services. For additional information, please visit our website at www.paulhastings.com.