Standard & Poor’s Suits Belong in State Court, States Say

Arizona and 14 other states that sued McGraw Hill Financial Inc. and its Standard & Poor’s unit asked a judge to let them pursue claims in their own courts rather than in federal court in New York.

The 15 states said in a consolidated filing yesterday in Manhattan federal court that the complaints, which allege S&P misrepresented the independence and objectivity of its credit ratings, only raise claims of deceptive trade practices under state laws and don’t assert any federal claims.

“The states, in seeking relief for S&P’s persistent false characterizations of its own ratings services, are pursuing their sovereign interests in an area of traditional state authority,” according to the filing.

S&P had the states’ lawsuits moved to federal court and consolidated in Manhattan. Almost all the state suits faced by New York-based McGraw Hill and S&P were brought in February and timed to coincide with the U.S. Justice Department’s filing of a case in Santa Ana, California, that raised similar allegations.

In March, the defendants filed to move state-court cases filed by Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington and other states to corresponding federal district courts as a prelude to the request for pretrial consolidation in New York.

The consolidated case is In re Standard & Poor’s rating agency litigation, 13-md-02446, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)