Supreme Court case evaluates suits that represent states

Line between class action and mass action a fine one

On Nov. 6 the Supreme Court began examination of a case that could offer a ruling on so-called mass action lawsuits that happen on behalf of states. In question is whether or not businesses should be subject to suit twice, once on behalf of the individuals and again on behalf of the state they’re citizens of.

The case at issue revolves around a suit brought by the Mississippi Attorney General against the manufacturers of LCD televisions. The antitrust suit alleges that major LCD manufacturers conspired to fix prices on televisions. While the suits on behalf of the consumers have largely been settled, there is question surround whether or not a State can file suit against them as well.

Manufacturers in these cases are arguing that under the Class Action Fairness Act, they have the right to move civil cases brought by AGs out of their state courts and into federal court. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says that these cases should not fall under that act because the suit is not a class action. Hood says that moving this case to federal court undermines the state’s sovereignty.

In his oral arguments, the Washington lawyer representing Hood, Jonathon Massey, said, “There is only one plaintiff in this case, the state of Mississippi.” Massey also said in his arguments that, “the harm to Mississippi as a population, as an entity from this price-fixing conspiracy,”

Representing the LCD manufacturers, Christopher Curran says that the suit was an attempt to “double dip,” and asserted that the state AG was abusing his office in an attempt to bring a “copycat” lawsuit to the state courts.

A ruling on the case Mississippi v. AU Optronics Corp is expected by next summer.

For more recent Supreme Court coverage, check out the following articles:

Supreme Court passes on evaluating Facebook class action settlement

Supreme Court considers whether parens patriae can be removed to federal court

U.S. Chamber of Commerce lawyers expand their reach

Associate Editor

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Chris DiMarco

Chris DiMarco, Associate Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, has a background in multimedia production with previous involvement in projects in which he developed and created content...

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