A 9-0 Supreme Court today ordered a federal district court to remand a case seeking restitution for all Missippians who overpaid for liquid crystal displays (LCDs) back to state court.
The lawsuit, by the Attorney General of Mississippi, accused LCD makers of conspiring to fix prices, in violation of Mississippi antitrust and consumer protection statutes.
The manufacturers removed the case under "class action" or "mass action" under the Class Action Fairness Act. The district court ruled that the case didn't qualify as a "class action" but that it did meet the "mass action" test, which requires "monetary relief claims of 100 or more persons". A Fifth Circuit panel reversed under the "general public" exception to CAFA jurisdiction over a "mass action". But it agreed that the the "mass action" moniker applied.
Affirming, the Court (per Justice Sotomayor) held that "unnamed" parties such as the absent citizens of the Magnolia State do not qualify as "persons" for purposes of the "mass action" definition. That they may meet the test for "real parties in interest" didn't matter. The Court accordingly reversed the district court's ruling remanded the case for further proceedings (i.e., remand to state court). Mississippi ex rel. Hood v. AU Optronics Corp., No. 12-1036 (U.S. Jan. 14, 2014).