The complaint alleged that the firm’s client, together with another state bar, illegally conspired to prevent the plaintiff from practicing law in their respective states. However, the Eleventh Amendment prohibits a suit brought in federal court against a state, its agencies and officials, unless the state has waived its sovereign immunity or consented to being sued. The Eleventh Amendment limits federal subject matter jurisdiction, and as a result of the state bar functioning as an extension of the state’s Supreme Court, it is a state agency that possesses Eleventh Amendment immunity.
The plaintiff also sought monetary damages caused by the actions of the state bar’s former executive director, but because the Eleventh Amendment applies to state officials, this claim was barred. The Court therefore dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Fraser Trebilcock President Thaddeus E. Morgan was pleased with the Court’s decision, and was quoted in an article by Law360 saying, “[Judge Friedman’s] comment about the complaint being a ‘hideous, sprawling mess’ is spot on.”
You can view the order here.
You can view the Law360 article here.