Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) yesterday introduced the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act of 2021, a bill to ensure state attorneys general are able to remain in the court they select rather than having their cases moved to a court the defendant prefers. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) has introduced companion legislation in the House.
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 from the JPML process ensures that the United States gets to remain in the court it selected and guarantees the United States retains its homefield advantage in the litigation. It also ensures the United States’ litigation moves quickly because it is not able to be combined with any similar case brought by private plaintiffs, which traditionally runs much more slowly because of the various competing interests in the litigation.
Conversely, 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, resulting in serious delays in their cases and additional injuries to the citizens of their states.
“Federal antitrust enforcers already benefit from protection against delays or threats from private antitrust suits, and there is no reason that state attorneys general should not receive this same protection,”said Sen. Lee. “This bill will strengthen federalism by putting state antitrust enforcers on an equal footing.”
“America works best when competition prevails, and consumers across the country benefit from the efforts of state authorities to enforce our nation’s antitrust laws,”said Sen. Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation will allow for more efficient and more effective antitrust enforcement by state attorneys general, which is good for competition and consumers.”
“States play a critical role in enforcing federal antitrust laws and should have the same benefit that is already afforded to federal antitrust enforcers – to select and remain in their preferred venue. Through this legislation, many of the inefficiencies and obstacles the states face in enforcing the federal antitrust laws will be eliminated, resulting in quicker resolution for the citizens of those states,” Rep. Buck said.
The full text of the bill and an online version of this release can be found here.