LCD Antitrust Litigation: 9-0 Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a state attorney general asserting state law claims for money on behalf of its citizens can have that case resolved by its state court, and is not required to be removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).

All nine Justices agreed to reverse the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that the State’s consumer protection action could not proceed in Mississippi state court but must be heard in federal court. The Fifth Circuit had limited state courts’ rights to hear important public matters by significantly broadening the interpretation of what can constitute a federal mass action. The CAFA statute requires that a case be removed to federal court if there are 100 or more individual plaintiffs. The State had argued that CAFA did not apply since the State was the only Plaintiff. The Fifth Circuit had ruled that, despite the State Attorney General being the only plaintiff in the case, the court would treat all Mississippi residents as plaintiffs so CAFA’s 100 person requirement could be considered satisfied. The State appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the Supreme Court’s Opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that an action by an attorney general on behalf of the state’s citizens does not fit within CAFA’s language. The Court held that, because the State of Mississippi, through its attorney general, is the only plaintiff, this suit does not constitute a mass action. The decision ensures the right of state courts to hear such actions and retain the power to interpret state law. Read the Opinion.