Food and Commercial Workers v. Brown Group, Inc., 517 U.S. 544, 4 (1996)

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Cite as: 517 U. S. 544 (1996)

Opinion of the Court

Commercial Workers Union Local 751 charged that Brown Shoe's representations were false insofar as they are relevant here, and that in fact, even before sending the letter, Brown Shoe had begun the layoffs, which continued through February and into March. App. 8-9.1 The union accordingly claimed a violation of the WARN Act and sought the statutory remedy of 60-days' backpay for each of its affected members.

The District Court dismissed the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), saying that "when an organization seeks to recover monetary relief on behalf of its members, courts have found that such claims necessarily require participation of individual members in the suit." 820 F. Supp. 1192, 1193-1194 (ED Mo. 1993). The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that "[e]ach union member who wishes to recover WARN Act damages from Brown Shoe must participate in the suit so that his or her right to damages can be determined and the quantum of damages can be calculated by the court on the basis of particularized proof. Therefore, the union cannot meet the third part of the Hunt test and is precluded from asserting associational standing." 50 F. 3d 1426, 1432 (1995).2 We

granted certiorari, 516 U. S. 930 (1995), and now reverse.

1 Because the District Court dismissed the complaint, for the purposes of deciding this appeal we assume the truth of this allegation. Nor do we reach the merits of, or any other issue about, the union's further complaint that Brown Shoe's letter was defective because it was sent to an individual who worked for the International. The complaint alleges that United Food Local 751, not the International or its employee, is the exclusive representative of the affected employees and is thus statutorily entitled to notice of the closing and mass layoff.

2 The District Court had also denied the union's motion to amend its complaint to add employees as plaintiffs. App. to Pet. for Cert. 18a-19a. The Court of Appeals held that the District Court's decision in this respect did not represent an abuse of its discretion. 50 F. 3d, at 1432. The correctness of this determination is outside the scope of the questions presented here. See Pet. for Cert. i.


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