Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation
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AAAPC and UAS filed suit against Quest for conspiring to force them out of the market of providing allergy and asthma testing. The district court dismissed plaintiffs' claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).The Fifth Circuit concluded that plaintiffs' claims alleging that Quest violated sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act and the Texas antitrust law are not time-barred. The court explained that plaintiffs' allegations about Phadia and Quest's continued meetings with providers and payors do not restart the statute of limitations; plaintiffs' allegations regarding the June 2015 policy change does not suffice to restart the statute of limitations; but plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that Phadia and Quest were involved in the alleged conspiracy and that the allegation regarding Phadia's May 2014 email reset the statute of limitations. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's dismissal as to the state and federal antitrust claims. The court also reversed the dismissal of plaintiffs' misappropriation of trade secrets claim, concluding that plaintiffs have sufficiently pled they could not have discovered their misappropriation injury using reasonable diligence. Moreover, nothing in the complaint forecloses their potential rejoinder to the statute of limitations defense. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the civil conspiracy and tortious interference claims. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' request for leave to amend their complaint. View "Academy of Allergy & Asthma in Primary Care v. Quest Diagnostics, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Commission charged Impax Laboratories with antitrust violations for accepting payments ultimately worth more than $100 million to delay the entry of its generic drug for more than two years. The Commission conducted a rule-of-reason analysis and unanimously concluded that Impax violated antitrust law.The Fifth Circuit denied the petition for review, concluding that substantial evidence supports the Commission's finding that the reverse payment settlement threatened competition. In this case, Endo agreed to make large payments to the company that was allegedly infringing its patents; in exchange, Impax agreed to delay entry of its generic drug until two-and-a-half years after the FDA approved the drug; and neither the saved costs of forgoing a trial nor any services Endo received justified these payments. Furthermore, substantial evidence supports the Commission's conclusion that a less restrictive, no-payment settlement, alternative was feasible. Therefore, Impax agreed to an unreasonable restraint of trade because the reverse payment settlement was an agreement to preserve and split monopoly profits that was not necessary to allow generic competition before the expiration of Endo's patent. View "Impax Laboratories, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Shah, a board-certified pediatric anesthesiology specialist, joined STAR, which became the exclusive provider of anesthesia services at several San Antonio-area acute-care hospitals, including NCB. BHS guaranteed STAR $500,000 in collections for pediatric anesthesia services provided at NCB. In 2012, STAR became the exclusive provider of anesthesia services at four BHS hospitals. Shah was not a party to the 2012 agreement, nor was he named in the pediatric income guarantee but he continued to practice as a STAR pediatric anesthesiologist, becoming the primary beneficiary of STAR’s guaranteed collections. In 2016, STAR and BHS amended the 2012 agreement, eliminating the pediatric income guarantee. The exclusivity provision remained. STAR terminated its relationship with Shah. Shah could no longer provide pediatric anesthesia services at NCB or any other BHS facility included in the exclusivity agreement. Shah requested authorization to provide pediatric anesthesia care at NCB; BHS responded that Shah’s reappointment to the Medical Staff of BHS and his privileges were approved but the exclusivity provision precluded Shah from providing pediatric anesthesia services at six BHS facilities (including NCB). After unsuccessfully suing STAR in Texas state court, Shah sued under the Sherman Act.The Fifth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the BHS parties. Shah’s definition of the relevant market is insufficient as a matter of law; it does not encompass all interchangeable substitute products because it does not include the two non-BHS facilities that the BHS parties contend serve as viable alternatives to BHS facilities. View "Shah v. VHS San Antonio Partners, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's order staying administrative proceedings that were initiated by the FTC against the Board under the Federal Trade Commission Act. The district court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over the Board's lawsuit because the Act vests exclusive jurisdiction to review challenges to Commission proceedings in the courts of appeals.The court held that, even if the Act does not preclude the Administrative Procedure Act's default review provision, 5 U.S.C. 704,—an issue the court need not address—the Board fails to meet Section 704's jurisdictional prerequisites. The court explained that case law does not support jurisdiction based on the collateral order doctrine as applied through Section 704. In this case, the issues relevant to immunity pertain to the reach of the Sherman Act and thus a judicial decision at this point would not resolve an issue completely separate from the merits of the action. Therefore, the April 10, 2018 order does not constitute final agency action under Section 704, and the collateral order doctrine does not apply. View "Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board v. Federal Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit dismissed a petition for review of an FTC order based on lack of jurisdiction. The court held that the FTC's order denying the Board's motion to dismiss and granting the FTC's motion for partial summary decision was not a cease and desist order and thus the Federal Trade Commission Act did not expressly authorize the court to exercise jurisdiction in this case. The court also held that the language in the Act could not be interpreted to allow appellate review of collateral orders. View "Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board v. FTC" on Justia Law

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Veritext filed suit challenging the Board's enforcement of La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 1434(A)(1), which provides that depositions shall be taken before an officer authorized to administer oaths, who is not an employee or attorney of any of the parties or otherwise interested in the outcome of the case. In 2012, the Board began enforcing Article 1434 more aggressively, declaring that the law prohibits all contracts between court reporters and party litigants, including volume-based discounts and concessions to frequent customers.The Fifth Circuit held that the district court was correct to dismiss all of the constitutional claims brought by Veritext as a matter of Supreme Court precedent. The court explained that Louisiana's interest in the integrity of its court reporting system was legally sufficient, and Veritext failed to clearly identify a burden on interstate commerce imposed by the Board's enforcement of Article 1434 that exceeds its local benefits. However, the court held that Veritext pled facts sufficient to support a finding that the Board's conduct did restrain trade and remanded so that Veritext could proceed on its Sherman Act claim. View "Veritext Corp. v. Bonin" on Justia Law

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BD and RTI are competitors in the market for syringes of various types and IV catheters. This appeal arises from a $340 million jury verdict (after trebling) entered against BD for its alleged attempt to monopolize the United States safety syringe market in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. 2. BD was also found liable for false advertising under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)(1)(B). The district court, relying on principles of equity, held that the treble damage award subsumed BD’s liability to disgorge profits from the false advertising, but the district court enjoined BD to stop using those ads and notify customers, employees, distributors, and others about the false claims. The court concluded that the Section 2 claim for attempt to monopolize is infirm as a matter of law where patent infringement, which operates to increase competition, is not anticompetitive conduct; false advertising is a slim, and here nonexistent, reed for a Section 2 claim; and the allegation that BD “tainted” the market for retractable syringes while surreptitiously plotting to offer its own retractable a few years later is unsupported and incoherent. The court affirmed the Lanham Act judgment of liability for false advertising but reversed and remanded for a redetermination of disgorgement damages, if any. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded the injunctive relief for reconsideration. View "Retractable Technologies, Inc. v. Becton Dickinson & Co." on Justia Law

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Sanger filed suit claiming that it was forced to abandon certain prospective business plans after coming up against the anticompetitive practices of HUB, a major player in the nationwide market for veterinary insurance. The district court granted summary judgment for HUB. The court concluded that Sanger has produced sufficient evidence of preparedness to survive the standing inquiry at the summary judgment stage, and the court reversed the district court’s ruling to the contrary. The court also concluded that the alleged conduct does implicate allocation of risk in the insurance market and thus the McCarran-Ferguson Act, 15 U.S.C. 1012(b), exemption. Therefore, the dismissal of the federal antitrust claims is affirmed, but the dismissal of the state antitrust and tortious interference claims is reversed. View "Sanger Ins. Agency v. HUB Int'l" on Justia Law

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Felder's filed an antitrust suit against All Star and GM, alleging that GM's "Bump the Competition" program, which lowers the consumer price for GM-manufactured parts below the prices of equivalent "generic" auto parts manufactured by others, is an unlawful predatory pricing scheme. GM lowers the price by providing rebates to dealers like All Star that sell GM-manufactured parts for the reduced prices. The court concluded that the effect of this rebate in deciding whether Felder's can meet one of the essential elements of a predatory pricing claim - that defendant is selling its products at a price below average variable cost - should be considered. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the antitrust claims based on Felder's failure to adequately define the relevant geographic market and its earlier finding that Felder's did not allege below-cost pricing. View "Felder's Collision Parts v. All Star Advertising" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against AQHA, alleging violations of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, 2, and Texas antitrust law. Plaintiffs' allegations stemmed from votes by the Stud Book and Registration Committee of the AQHA, which had blocked AQHA registration of horses created through somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT or cloning). On appeal, AQHA challenged the district court's denial of its motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL). The court concluded that reasonable jurors could not draw any inference of conspiracy from the evidence presented, because it neither tends to exclude the possibility of independent action nor does it suggest the existence of any conspiracy at all. Therefore, the court concluded that the JMOL motion should have been granted in the absence of substantial evidence on the issue of an illegal conspiracy to restrain trade under Section 1 of the Act. Further, the Section 2 claim failed as a matter of law because AQHA is not a competitor in the allegedly relevant market for elite Quarter Horses. Accordingly, the court reversed and rendered judgment for AQHA. View "Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture v. American Quarter Horse Assoc." on Justia Law