In re Flonase
(3rd Circ., Filed November 2, 2016): Arguing that a State cannot invoke sovereign immunity to avoid being bound by a class settlement and, instead, bring a new lawsuit making identical claims when the State was expressly included in the class, received notice of the action and settlement, and did not opt out.
On December 22, 2017, the Court ruled against ATRA’s position and affirmed the district court’s decision finding the Eleventh Amendment barred the suit. It found that GSK’s action in federal court to enjoin Louisiana’s state court lawsuit through enforcing the settlement agreement qualified as a lawsuit against the state (even through the state was acting as a plaintiff in that suit). The Third Circuit also found that a Class Action Fairness Act notice and the state’s failure to act on it was insufficient to waive Louisiana’s sovereign immunity because waiver requires a clear and unequivocal declaration that the state consents to suit.
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