February 23, 2024 2 min read

Missouri Chamber seeks clarity through Supreme Court brief

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in an effort to bring more certainty to the litigation process.

In Wullschleger v. Royal Canin et al., the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July 2023 that a lawsuit can be remanded back to state court even after defendants have properly exercised their rights for removal to the federal level. The Eighth Circuit ruling counters those in other circuits, and Missouri borders three other circuit court districts.

The amicus brief stated, in part: “Until now, businesses in the Eighth Circuit have relied on the protection afforded by the stable, predictable rule that if the federal court has jurisdiction when the case is removed, then it retains jurisdiction throughout the case. But that rule is no longer. Now, businesses can only guess whether the case will remain in federal court, for plaintiffs can amend their complaint to drop any reference to federal law.

“That destabilizing effect will be felt most profoundly by small businesses, which make up the vast majority of businesses in Missouri. Those small businesses lack the resources to engage in extensive legal maneuvering before reaching the merits and may feel compelled to settle – even if they have strong defenses.”

Brendan Cossette, chief operating officer and legal counsel for the Missouri Chamber, added, “Businesses need certainty. Unpredictability raises the costs of litigation. The ability of a company to remove a case from state court to the federal level is very important.”

The Missouri Chamber also noted that the Eighth Circuit decision disincentivizes national companies from investing or locating their headquarters in Missouri. And the brief states that the “excess litigation that businesses will face as a result of the decision will contribute to higher prices, fewer jobs and less innovation.”

The plaintiff in the Wullschleger case has claimed that pet food companies Royal Canin U.S. and Nestle Purina sold prescription dog food that contained no medication. The lawsuit was initially filed in 2019.

Cossette said the hope is that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case in order to clarify the different rulings in place at the circuit court level regarding federal jurisdiction.

For more information, contact Cossette at bcossette@mochamber.com or call 573-634-3511.


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