By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to weigh in on a dispute between states and electronics manufacturers over whether restitution claims based on alleged price-fixing in the market for liquid crystal display panels should be heard in state or federal court.
South Carolina and Mississippi are among 13 states that have sued various manufacturers, including AU Optronics Corp, LG Display Co Ltd and LG Electronics Inc. They seek restitution over an alleged conspiracy among the companies to fix prices, which has been the subject of a criminal probe and multiple lawsuits.
Some of the cases are in federal court, but South Carolina and Mississippi were among five states that sued in state courts, which are generally seen as friendlier to plaintiffs.
The companies sought to move the cases to federal court, which corporate defendants generally prefer. They succeeded in the Mississippi case but not in the South Carolina litigation.
Both cases were appealed to the high court, but the justices only agreed to hear the Mississippi case.
The Supreme Court will now decide whether lawsuits filed by a state on behalf of citizens can be viewed as similar to a class action, meaning they can be moved to federal court.
Oral arguments and a ruling are due in the court's next term, which begins in October and ends in June.
The case is Mississippi v. AU Optronics Corp, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-1036.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller, Gerald E. McCormick and Lisa Von Ahn)