High court OKs Miss. lawsuit on LCD price fixing

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that Mississippi can pursue claims of price-fixing against a manufacturer of LCD screens in state court.

The justices on Tuesday reversed a lower court ruling that blocked the state-court suit against AU Optronics Corp.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the court, said the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong to order that the case be tried in federal court.

The issue was whether the federal Class Action Fairness Act, aimed at taking class-action lawsuits from consumer-friendly state courts to more business-friendly federal courts, also applied to cases filed by a state on behalf of its residents. The company contended that it did, while Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, said states should be able to pursue cases to protect their own citizens in state court.

“For far too long, large corporations have abused the federal judiciary by trying to drag every action filed by an attorney general in state court into federal courts,” Hood said in a statement. “The working people of Mississippi and other states won one this time.”

Taiwan-based AU Optronics is one of several Asian companies sued for fixing prices for thin film transistor liquid-crystal display panels from 1999 to 2006. The company pleaded guilty to federal charges and paid $220 million in fines

Hood said he wants to continue the case in Hinds County Chancery Court to recover money lost by Mississippi and its citizens.

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