Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation

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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

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Plaintiff, a baseball bat manufacturer, filed an antitrust suit against the NCAA and the NFHS, alleging that they imposed a regulation, the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution Standard (BBCOR), that restrained trade in the market for non-wood baseball bats. The district court dismissed the complaint. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege a conspiracy under section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1; the only plausible injury asserted was its own and only injuries to the markets were cognizable; and therefore, plaintiff did not state a claim upon which relief could be granted and the district court properly dismissed its Sherman Act claim. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff's motion to amend where two prior amendments were granted and allowing a third would be futile. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Second Amended Complaint and affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to amend. View "Marucci Sports, L.L.C. v. Nat'l Collegiate Athl. Assn., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, chicken growers, filed suit and obtained a money judgment against PPC for damages arising from PPC's unlawful attempt to manipulate or control poultry prices. The court concluded that PPC's conduct was merely the legitimate response of a rational market participant to changes in a dynamic market. If a firm inadvertently over-produces a good and drives down prices, it did not break the law by cutting production so that prices could recover. Therefore, the court held that PPC did not violate the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 (PSA), 7 U.S.C. 181 et seq., by reducing its commodity chicken output. Accordingly, the court reversed and rendered judgment in favor of PPC. View "Pilgrim's Pride Corp. v. Agerton, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought a class action suit under section 4 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 15, against the largest United States casket manufacturer, Batesville; and against the three largest United States funeral home chains and distributors of Batesville caskets. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants conspired to foreclose competition from independent casket discounters (ICDs) who sold caskets directly to consumers at discount prices and maintained artificially high consumer casket prices in violation of sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, 2, by engaging in a group boycott to prevent ICDs from selling Batesville caskets and dissuading consumers from purchasing caskets from ICDs. Plaintiffs also alleged that defendants used concerted efforts to restrict casket price competition, including coordinating prices, limiting the advertisement of pricing, and engaging in sham discounting. The court reversed and remanded the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction of the claim for attorneys' fees and costs; affirmed the district court's dismissal of Consumer Appellants' and FCA's injunctive relief claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and affirmed the district court's denial of class certification. View "Funeral Consumers Alliance Inc, et al v. Service Corp. Intl, et al" on Justia Law

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This was an antitrust case involving a dispute between competing programs to sell vouchers for rounds of golf at golf courses along Mississippi's Gulf Coast. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss, deciding, in pertinent part, that plaintiff had failed to allege the interstate commerce element of a valid claim under the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1-7. The court concluded that, if it was true that these hotels and golf courses attracted out-of-state visitors who participated in the voucher program, as the complaint alleged, then there could be no doubt under both the Supreme Court's and this court's jurisprudence that the complaint stated a claim with respect to subject matter jurisdiction. Therefore, because the court found that the district court erred in dismissing the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.