The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the nearly decade-old Microsoft Corp. v. Baker case today, March 21. The hearing is not about alleged Xbox 360 defects. The high court hearing centers on whether parties to a Class Action Suit can opt to have cases dismissed with prejudice to attain immediate review, keeping cases alive.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez, Washington state federal judge, originally ruled in 2012 that seven Xbox 360 users, seeking to sue Microsoft Corp., had to file individual lawsuits instead of suing as a class.

When the judge denied class certification, the group chose dismissal with prejudice.

Rebirth of Microsoft Xbox 360 case

The case was resuscitated March 2015 by the Ninth Circuit, which found that Judge Martinez did not apply the outcome of Wolin v. Jaguar Land Rover (2010). Microsoft appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorney Jeffrey Fisher, arguing for Microsoft, informed Bloomberg BNA, “We look forward to explaining why plaintiffs who dismiss their own claims should not be allowed to continue seeking class certification so they can pursue the claims of others.” If Xbox 360 users prevail in the Supreme Court’s ruling, class action lawsuits will extend two years.

High court to resolve lower courts’ difference of opinion

The precedent-setting high court ruling will determine if individuals can form a group to file class action suits concerning low-value products when suing as individuals is not cost-effective. “The problem that plaintiffs face…is that adjudication of the individual claims often makes no sense without class relief because the costs and fees associated with a trial would dwarf the possible recovery from any particular individual’s claim,” explains Ronald Mann.

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the oral arguments, evolving from voluntary dismiss-then-appeal, will resolve conflicting opinions rendered by the lower courts.

Timeline taking Baker v. Microsoft to the U.S. Supreme Court

  • 2007 Xbox 360 users, including Seth Baker, filed individual lawsuits against Microsoft Corp., makers of the gaming console
  • 2009 U.S. Judge John Coughenour, Western District of Washington, consolidated the Xbox 360 users’ cases and denied class certification
  • 2011 Baker and others filed a class action suit against Microsoft (Western District of Washington)
  • 2012 U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez also denied class certification