AT&T Mobility LLC receives some due process love from the Ninth Circuit, this time as a plaintiff


When the Ninth Circuit decided, Mazza v. Am. Honda Motor Co., 666 F.3d 581 (9th Cir. 2012), the immediate reaction from the commentator class was to conclude that it was a substantial setback for plaintiffs and a "pro-defense" decision.  However, a recent decision of the Ninth Circuit suggests that, possibly, a black-and-white reading of Mazza could be inaccurate.  In AT&T Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp. (Feb. 14, 2013), the Ninth Circuit considered whether the District Court erred when it dismissed California anti-competition state law claims based on purchases that occurred outside California.  The Court concluded that, to the extent conspiratorial conduct was sufficiently connected to California, the application of California law would be neither arbitrary nor fundamentally unfair.

The Court explained that allegations of a conspiracy to price fix, occurring in California, were sufficient to render the allegations constitutionally sound:

Nor would the application of California law impermissibly undermine the policies of other states, as Defendants contend. Because the Due Process Clause does nothing but circumscribe the universe of state laws that can be constitutionally applied to a given case, we “need not . . . balance the competing interests of California and [other states].” United Farm Workers of Am., AFL-CIO v. Ariz. Agric. Emp’t Relations Bd., 669 F.2d 1249, 1256 (9th Cir. 1982); see also Allstate, 449 U.S. at 308 n.10 (“[T]he Court has since abandoned the weighing-of-interests requirement.”). Objections based on the interests of other states are more properly raised under a choice of law analysis, or potentially under a challenge predicated on some other provision of the U.S. Constitution. Defendants raised no such arguments before the district court.

Slip op., at 15.

The question, then, is whether the focus on the conspiracy situated in California would change the analysis of Mazza, which turned on the issue of where consumers received allegedly misleading advertisements.  California can certainly articulate a sound basis for its interest in deterring price-fixing conspiracies occurring within its borders.