Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Manning

U.S. Supreme Court Holds that State Court has Jurisdiction over Securities Suit Brought Under State Law

Term: 2015 Term
Oral Argument Date: Dec 1, 2015
Vote: 8-0
Opinion: Kagan
Questions Presented: 

Whether § 27 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 provides federal jurisdiction over state-law claims seeking to establish liability based on violations of the Act or its regulations or seeking to enforce duties created by the Act or its regulations. 

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

The U.S. Chamber filed a merits-stage amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in a case addressing whether Section 27 of the Exchange Act of 1934 provides federal jurisdiction over state-law claims seeking to establish liability based on violations of the Act and its regulations.

The Chamber’s amicus brief argues that Section 27 extends federal jurisdiction to all suits alleging violations of the Act and its implementing regulations or seeking to enforce duties created by the Act. It explains that uniformity in the application of the Act is critical for effective enforcement of the securities laws and efficient administration of financial markets. According to the brief, the Third Circuit’s decision to the contrary encourages artful pleading and creates substantial risk of inconsistency in the application of the securities laws.  

Matthew T. Martens, Jaclyn Moyer, and John Byrnes of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP served as co-counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.

Outcome Content: 

The Supreme Court unanimously held that the state court properly exercised jurisdiction over the law suit because it did not arise under federal law.

Procedural History: 

Cert. petition granted 6/30/2015. U.S. Chamber amicus brief filed 9/10/2015.

Argued 12/1/2015.

Decided 5/19/2016.