Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 9:14 AM

Supreme Court Denies Cert In Challenge To Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement

On May 12, 2008, the Supreme Court denied cert. in an antitrust case challenging the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement ("MSA") and its implementing statutes. See Sanders v. Brown, --- S.Ct. ---, No. 07-995 (May 12, 2008). The Ninth Circuit had held (1) that the MSA implementing statutes were not pre-empted by the Sherman Act, (2) that the Noer Pennington immunity doctrine protects a private party from liability for the act of negotiating a settlement with a state entity and any injuries that result directly from valid government action taken on the petitioner's behalf, and (3) that the Parker state-action immunity doctrine protects a state from liability for entering into the MSA and for enacting the implementing statutes. See Sanders v. Brown, 504 F.3d 903 (2007). In its petition for cert, the plaintiff argued that the Ninth Circuit's decision was contrary to the Second Circuit's decision in Freedom Holdings Inc. v. Spitzer, 357 F.3d 205 (2d Cir. 2004). In response, the State of California argued that there was no real circuit split because "the tension among the circuits regarding federal antitrust preemption of the MSA and related state laws is inchohate and likely to be resovlved by the lower courts." As is almost always the case, the Supreme Court offered no explanation for its denial of cert. Click here to read about the Supreme Court's denial of cert in Freedom Holdings.


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