SCOTT JAGOW: The Supreme Court opens for business today, 38 cases on the docket. A handful of them will get most of the attention — I mean, they deal with abortion rights and affirmative action. But almost half the cases have a direct impact on big business. For example, companies that wind up in court. Sam Eaton has more.
SAM EATON: The two cases businesses are paying the closest attention to are Phillip Morris versus Williams and Ledbetter versus Goodyear. The first addresses whether constitutional limits should be imposed on punitive damages. The second deals with how far back in time a plaintiff can reach in seeking discriminatory pay claims.
Karen Harned directs the National Federation of Independent Business Legal Foundation. She says the main issue is how far the courts will reach in exposing businesses to costly damage claims.
KAREN HARNED: And for small employers in particular who do not have compliance departments and attorneys on staff, these are the types of issues that can really kill a business.
The point exactly says Brian Wolman with the consumer watchdog group, Public Citizen. He says limiting liability for businesses eases the risk of lawsuits.
BRIAN WOLMAN: What you need is the proper incentive to get the business community to do the right thing. In other words, punitive damages have to be large and they have to be somewhat unpredictable.
Decisions on these cases are expected by June.
In Los Angeles, I’m Sam Eaton for Marketplace.
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