WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT), Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, announced that the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act has passed the Judiciary Committee.
This bill will strengthen the ability of state attorneys general litigating antitrust cases to remain in the courts they select rather than having their cases moved to a court the defendant prefers and consolidated with private lawsuits. Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO) and David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced companion legislation in the House.
“America works best when competition prevails, and consumers across the country benefit from the efforts of state attorneys general to enforce our nation’s antitrust laws,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation will allow for more efficient and effective antitrust enforcement by state attorneys general, which is good for competition and consumers. Now that this bill has passed the Judiciary Committee, I look forward to it passing the full Senate and being signed into law.”
“I am thrilled that the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act has been reported from the Judiciary Committee with strong bipartisan support. This simple reform will give a much-needed boost to State antitrust enforcement actions, and will respect States’ sovereignty in their efforts to protect their citizens from abusive monopolists. I look forward to working with the rest of my Senate colleagues to secure passage on the floor,” said Sen. Lee.
Under current law, antitrust enforcement actions filed by the United States cannot be transferred via a process run by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). This carveout guarantees that the United States will not be transferred out of the court it selected and consolidated with private actions under the JPML process. This helps ensure that the United States’ litigation moves more quickly because it cannot be combined with multiple cases brought by private plaintiffs, which traditionally runs much more slowly due to various competing interests in the litigation.
At present, states that file antitrust cases under the federal antitrust laws do not get this same benefit. They are subject to the JPML process and therefore they do not get to remain in their chosen court, potentially resulting in serious delays in their cases and prolonging any ongoing harms to the citizens of their states.
In July, Klobuchar, Lee, Buck, and Cicilline sent a letter to the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts on the importance of passing this legislation, which has been endorsed by 52 state attorneys general.
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