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Federal court gets Accugrade lawsuit

Accugrade, a grading service located in Florida that brought a state court suit against the American Numismatic Association, Collector’s Universe, other entities and individuals, now may have its day in the U.S. District Court for the middle district of Florida.

The change comes as a result of its removal to that District Court.

When a resident or citizen of one state sues the citizen of another in state court, the defending citizen has the right to remove the case to a federal forum provided that there is complete diversity of citizenship, meaning in this case that no other Florida residents are plaintiffs or making claims against the defending parties.

Removed at the suggestion of Heritage Capital Corp., also a defendant, the case is tied up procedurally with a series of motions and arguments over not only where the case should be heard, but whether or not a default judgment should be entered against one or more of the parties for not appearing in the action.

Allegations in the case are complicated, but a brief summary suggests that Accugrade claims that the American Numismatic Association, the  Professional Coin Grading Service (owned by parent Collector’s Universe) and others conspired to exclude Accugrade from the grading business in violation of state anti-trust laws that closely mirror their federal counterparts.
The allegations have been denied.

One of the individual named defendants, Barry Stuppler, is vice president of the ANA and has been publicly vocal in alleging that Accugrade’s coin grading does not meet market standards and its graded coins trade at substantially lower prices than coins encapsulated by other grading services.

A similar case was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Dec. 17, 2004. That case was dismissed.

The Florida claim appears posited under state law, which prohibits anti-competitive conduct. The case will simply have to wait out various procedural niceties before either determining that it was not properly brought, or that Accugrade is entitled to prove damages. 

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