Court lets people bilked in commodities file suit

The Supreme Court, resolving a major scandal in commodity futures trading, ruled 5 to 4 that people victimized by manipulations of a commodities market can sue their broker and the exchange for fraud. The justices rejected arguments from commodities exchanges and brokers claiming such suits could make them liable for millions of dollars in damages.

The cases before the justices focused on whether commodity trading laws can be enforced through private lawsuits. The ruling concluded that the history of federal law involving commodities ''quite clearly indicates that Congress intended to protect all futures traders from price manipulation and other fradulent conduct.''

In other action, the court agreed to hear a challenge by John Anderson, the 1980 presidential candidate, to Ohio election laws that make it difficult for independents to get on the ballot. Stepping into a political controversy that could open the door to more third-party bids for the White House in 1984, the justices next fall will review a decision that upheld Ohio's requirements, similar to those in other states, that compel a presidential candidate to qualify for the ballot as much as 71/2 months before the general election - long before the deadline for Democrats and Republicans.

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