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Supreme Court sides with energy company in bid to force class-action case into federal court

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court won't make it tougher for defendants in class-action lawsuits to transfer cases from state courts to more business-friendly federal court.

The justices on Monday ruled 5-4 in favor of a Michigan energy company that wanted to move a class-action case from Kansas state court to federal court without showing evidence that damages in the case would exceed $5 million. That is the minimum amount required for transferring such cases.

The case involved a group of royalty owners who sued Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. alleging they were underpaid royalties on oil and gas wells.

A federal judge refused to transfer the case without evidence of damages. A federal appeals court declined to consider an appeal, but the Supreme Court said the law does not require such evidence.

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