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The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that victims of former Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford's massive Ponzi scheme can go forward with class-action lawsuits against the law firms, accountants and investment companies that allegedly aided the $7.2 billion fraud.

The decision is a loss for firms that claimed federal securities law insulated them from state class-action lawsuits and sought to have the cases thrown out. But it offers another avenue for more than 21,000 of Stanford's bilked investors to try to recover their lost savings.

Federal law says class-action lawsuits related to securities fraud cannot be filed under state law, as these cases were. But a federal appeals court said the cases could move forward because the main part of the fraud involved certificates of deposit, not stocks and other securities.

The high court agreed in a 7-2 decision, with the two dissenting justices warning that the ruling would lead to an explosion of state class-action lawsuits.

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