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US: SCOTUS rules on LCD price-fixing case

 |  January 14, 2014

The US Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that an antitrust lawsuit initiated by Mississippi against LCD screen makers could not be moved to federal court as the defendants had wished, a decision reports say will make it more difficult to sue foreign companies in domestic courts.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the SCOTUS unanimously voted that the case, which brought legal action against liquid crystal display makers AU Optronics and Sharp for allegations of price-fixing, must remain in Mississippi. The companies, who were found by federal regulators to have fixed LCD prices in a worldwide scandal, looked to have the case moved to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 on hopes they would receive a more positive outcome than in state court.

The companies had looked to qualify the lawsuit as a so-called “mass action” under the 2005 law in order to move the case. To qualify, there must be more than 100 plaintiffs in a state that could be considered hostile against corporate defendants.

But SCOTUS’s decision Tuesday found that the lawsuit did not qualify as a mass action as Mississippi was the only named plaintiff. An attempt to name all plaintiffs involved, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, would lead to “an administrative nightmare that Congress could not possibly have intended.”

The SCOTUS ruling overturns a lower court’s decision that the case should be heard in federal court.

Reports say the unanimous ruling, along with a second decision also revealed Tuesday regarding human rights abuses in Argentina, will make it more difficult for plaintiffs to sue foreign firms in federal court.

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