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Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

New Life to Libor Case Winnowed From Dozens

WASHINGTON (CN) - Two women complaining about the manipulation of the London interbank offered rate (Libor) can appeal the dismissal of their claims, though similar lawsuits against remain ongoing, the Supreme Court ruled.

Ellen Gelboim and Linda Zacher's antitrust case against Bank of America, Credit Suisse Group and others had been consolidated in Manhattan with 60 other similar lawsuits for pretrial purposes, but a federal judge dismissed Gelboim and Zacher's sole claim for relief, and therefore their complaint, with prejudice.

When Gelboim and Zacher tried to appeal, the 2nd Circuit found last year that it lacked jurisdiction because all of the other consolidated complaints had not been dismissed as well.

Gelboim and Zacher petitioned the Supreme Court to answer "whether consolidated cases retain their separate identity or become one case for purposes of appellate jurisdiction has divided the courts of appeals."

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed for the challengers on Wednesday.

It "would leave plaintiffs like Gelboim and Zacher in a quandary about the proper timing of their appeals" if the right to such an appeal accrues only when the consolidation ends.

"If plaintiffs whose actions have been dismissed with prejudice by a district court must await the termination of pretrial proceedings in all consolidated cases, what event or order would start the 30-day clock?" Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court. "When pretrial consolidation concludes, there may be no occasion for the entry of any judgment. Orders may issue returning cases to their originating courts, but an order of that genre would not qualify as the dispositive ruling Gelboim and Zacher seek to overturn on appeal. And surely would-be appellants need not await final disposition of all cases in their originating districts, long after pretrial consolidation under §1407 could even arguably justify treating the cases as a judicial unit.

"The sensible solution to the appeal-clock trigger is evident: When the transferee court overseeing pretrial proceedings in multidistrict litigation grants a defendant's dispositive motion 'on all issues in some transferred cases, [those cases] become immediately appealable ... while cases where other issues remain would not be appealable at that time."

Gelboim and Zacher's case belonged to four categories of putative class actions that the banks sought to dismiss from the multidistrict litigation in June 2012.

Their action was filed on behalf of purchasers of bonds with LIBOR-linked interest rates, asserting only a federal antitrust claim under Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The complaints in the other actions asserted a federal antitrust claim in addition to other differently based federal and state claims.

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