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Mississippi ex rel. Hood v. AU Optronics Corp.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: January 14, 2014
Case #: 12-1036
Sotomayor, J., delivered the Court’s unanimous opinion.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/12-1036_0971.pdf

Civil Procedure: A suit filed by a State on behalf of the State and their citizens where the State is the only named party in the suit does not constitute a “mass action” under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005.

Petitioner sued Respondent in state court for unfair business practices.  Respondent requested removal from state court to the Federal District Court.  The Federal District Court found that the suit did not constitute a “class action” suit, but did constitute a “mass action” suit.  However, the Federal District Court remanded the case back to state court under the “general public exception” in the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) of 2005.  The Court of Appeals, despite agreeing with the determination of the Federal District Court that the suit was a “mass action,” reversed this decision on the grounds that the suit did not meet the “general public exception” under CAFA.

The Supreme Court reversed and held that a State cannot bring a “mass action” suit under CAFA when the State is the only named party in the suit.  The Court reasoned that by including unnamed parties in a “mass action” the definition of “plaintiff” would be diminished.  Removal is an example of how the definition of “plaintiff” would be diminished if a State were allowed to bring a “mass action” suit with unnamed plaintiffs.  The Court observed that once a case is removed, the case cannot be transferred to the court unless a majority of plaintiffs request the transfer.  The Court reasoned that it would be difficult for a majority of unnamed plaintiffs to request transfer to another court during removal.