Florida V. Samuels Group Lawsuit

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A Samuels Group lawsuit is a case in which a former employee brought suit against his former employer for violation of whistleblower laws. The employer appealed the decision of the U.S. Circuit Court and asked the Supreme Court to review the case. On March 9, the Supreme Court denied the employer’s request for a class action lawsuit.

Florida V. Samuels Group Lawsuit

The employer had argued that it was entitled to have the case judged on a “contingency basis.” The United States Circuit Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, had ruled in November 2021 that there was no such thing as a contingency fee for an employee bringing a class action lawsuit against the company. This ruling left the burden of proof with the employer.

In a strongly worded dissent, Associate Justice Ruth Ginsburg warned, “Class action lawsuits may well be abused.” She was referring to the fact that many people falsely believe that they have been victims of wage theft or other abuses when in reality they have been injured by someone else. Numerous times this happens because an injured person will go to the relative of an individual who is knowledgeable about the law to seek advice about how to file the lawsuit. The relative typically represents the defendant and obtains the services of one of the lawyers who often handles these types of cases, thereby putting the plaintiff through the entire ordeal.

Ginsburg also pointed out that there is nothing in the Due Process clause of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that would require an employer to notify their employees about the lawsuit.

She expressed concern that the majority of employers are not properly observing the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit. Many claims against large corporations are not resolved within the prescribed three years from the date of injury. This is particularly true in the area of asbestos lawsuits.

Ginsburg indicated that she believed the court should consider changing the statute of limitations for plaintiffs’ actions. She stated that she believed that the current statute of limitations on wrongful discharge and other types of claims was too low. However, she noted that this was a problem that affected many cases. In addition, she admitted that it was not possible for the court to examine every possible statute of limitations issue that would arise in the future. Ginsburg recommended that the court take a step toward requiring mandatory notice of claims, but she did not know what form such a notice would need to be.

The plaintiff’s attorney responded that mandatory notice could be a difficult thing for an employer to achieve.

He noted that the majority of employers already have policies in place regarding when they receive a claim and what their legal liability limits are. Therefore, he believed it would be extremely difficult to get an employer to be liable for damages that arose from their workplace. However, the Eleventh Amendment could bar a lawsuit of a nature that did not involve another employment-related claim. Ginsburg agreed with this point.

The attorney then presented the following argument: “There is nothing in the Constitution or federal law that prevents a coworker from bringing a Title VII claim against an employer who has refused to implement a safety rule based on that rule.”

The Court ignored this argument, stating that mandatory notice was not required by any textual provision. Specifically, the Court cited nothing in the Constitution or federal law that required the employer to give notice or that required an employee to file a claim before the employer could defend against the claim. Therefore, the Court held that mandatory notice of claim requirements did not violate the ADA regardless of whether the claim was based on disability discrimination.

Plaintiffs argue that they were properly entitled to bring a claim against their employer under the ADA, because they had been subjected to unlawful treatment in the workplace.

The Court found that plaintiffs did not show that they were subject to unlawful treatment while working, even if their coworkers subjected them to such treatment. Plaintiffs failed to establish that the ADA entitles them to sue their employer for past unlawful treatment. In light of this conclusion, the Court declined plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss. On a somewhat dissimilar argument, however, the majority opinion in the Florida case explained that an employer cannot be sued for past unlawful treatment, even when the treatment caused foreseeable harm, unless the employer can show that there was a substantial likelihood that future treatment would cause serious injury or create a significant threat of future harm.

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