14 January 2014

Law in Plain English: Mississippi ex. rel. Hood v. AU Optronics Corp.

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

SCOTUSblogMississippi ex. rel. Hood v. AU Optronics Corp.

Argument: Nov 6 2013 (Aud.)

Did you know? Mississippi state law specifically prohibits class action lawsuits.  Miss.Code Ann. § 75-24-15(4).

Discussion: Mississippi filed a parens patriae lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of liquid crystal display ("LCD") panels. These parties had the case removed to federal court because the claim was either a "class action" or "mass action" under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). Mississippi then moved to remand the case to state court, and the District Court granted the motion. The Fifth Circuit ruled that Mississippi was not the sole party of interest--the State (as a purchaser of LCD products) and individual citizens who purchased the products within Mississippi possessed rights sought to be enforced." As a result, the lawsuit qualified as a "mass action" under CAFA and reversed the District Court's order.

Issue: The question before the Court is whether a state’s parens patriae action is removable as a “mass action” under CAFA when the state is the sole plaintiff, the claims arise under state law, and the state attorney general possesses statutory and common-law authority to assert all claims in the complaint.

Holding: In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that because Mississippi is the only named plaintiff, this suit does not constitute a mass action under CAFA. As a result, the case cannot be removed to federal court.
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