Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion Summaries
Reliance Health Care, Inc. v. Mitchell
The Supreme Court dismissed this interlocutory appeal of a vacated class certification order and directed the circuit court to remand the case to address motions to compel arbitration, holding that this appeal was moot.Plaintiffs, who represented the estates of former residents of fourteen different nursing homes, alleged breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims against the nursing homes, in violation of the Arkansas Civil Rights act and the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The nursing homes moved to compel arbitration for all but two of the named plaintiffs, after which the plaintiffs moved for class certification. The circuit court granted Plaintiffs' motion for class certification without ruling on the motions to compel arbitration. The nursing homes brought an interlocutory appeal of the class-certification order and petitioned for writ of prohibition, mandamus, and certiorari. The Supreme Court granted the writ petition, vacating the order granting class certification, and ordered the circuit court to rule on the motions to compel before ruling on class certification, holding that the interlocutory appeal of the vacated class-certification order was moot. View "Reliance Health Care, Inc. v. Mitchell" on Justia Law
CORONAVIRUS REPORTER, ET AL V. APPLE, INC., ET AL
Plaintiffs Coronavirus Reporter, CALID, Inc., Primary Productions LLC, and Dr. Jeffrey D. Isaacs sued Defendant Apple for its allegedly monopolist operation of the Apple App Store. The district court dismissed the claims with prejudice for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and denied the remaining motions as moot. Plaintiffs-Appellants appealed. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. The panel held that Plaintiffs failed to state an antitrust claim under Section 1 or Section 2 of the Sherman Act, arising from Apple’s rejection of their apps for distribution through the App Store, because they did not sufficiently allege a plausible relevant market, either for their rejected apps as compared to other apps, or for apps in general. The panel held that Plaintiffs failed to state a claim for breach of contract under California law because they did not identify relevant specific provisions of Apple’s Developer Agreement or Developer Program License Agreement or show that Apple breached a specific provision. View "CORONAVIRUS REPORTER, ET AL V. APPLE, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law
Najah Edmundson v. Klarna Inc.
Defendant Klarna, Inc. ("Klarna") provides a "buy now, pay later" service that allows shoppers to buy a product and pay for it in four equal installments over time without incurring any interest or fees. Plaintiff paid for two online purchases using Klarna. Plaintiff incurred $70 in overdraft fees. Plaintiff brought this action on behalf of herself and a class of similarly situated consumers, alleging that Klarna misrepresents and conceals the risk of bank-overdraft fees that consumers face when using its pay-over-time service and asserting claims for common-law fraud and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practice Act ("CUTPA"). Klarna moved to compel arbitration. The district court denied Klarna's motion. The Second Circuit reversed he district court's order and remanded with instructions to grant Klarna's motion to compel arbitration. The court explained that when Plaintiff arrived at the Klarna Widget, she knew well that purchasing the GameStop item with Klarna meant that she was entering into a continuing relationship with Klarna, one that would endure at least until she repaid all four installments. The Klarna Widget provided clear notice that there were terms that would govern this continuing relationship. A reasonable internet user, therefore, would understand that finalizing the GameStop transaction, entering into a forward-looking relationship with Klarna, and receiving the benefit of Klarna's service would constitute assent to those terms. The court explained that Plaintiff was on inquiry notice that her "agreement to the payment terms," necessarily encompassed more than the information provided on the Klarna Widget, and the burden was then on her to find out to what terms she was accepting. View "Najah Edmundson v. Klarna Inc." on Justia Law
In Re: Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation
Subscribers who bought health insurance filed a class action against Blue Cross, alleging that it violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by restricting the member plans’ ability to compete. At issue is whether the district court abused its discretion in approving a settlement agreement for a multi-district antitrust class action against the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and its member plans. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the self-funded claimants were represented by their own counsel and class representatives in the settlement negotiations and received some compensation from the settlement. Although the settlement agreement’s allocation is facially unequal, it is not facially unfair. Further, the court held that the record supports the conclusion that the self-funded claimants and the fully insured claimants had at least potentially adverse interests. The district court did not abuse its discretion in dividing them into subclasses. Moreover, the court found that the district court also correctly applied the percentage-ofthe-fund doctrine. View "In Re: Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law
BioCorRx, Inc. v. VDM Biochemicals, Inc.
BioCorRx, Inc. (BioCorRx) was a publicly traded company primarily engaged in the business of providing addiction treatment services and related medication. It issued several press releases that allegedly made misrepresentations and improperly disclosed confidential information about a treatment it was developing for opioid overdose. VDM Biochemicals, Inc. (VDM) specializes in the synthesis and distribution of chemicals, reagents, and other specialty products for life science research. It owned a patent (the patent) for VDM-001, a compound with potential use as a treatment for opioid overdose. In September 2018, VDM and BioCorRx entered into a Mutual Nondisclosure & Confidentiality Agreement (the NDA), which restricted each party’s disclosure of confidential information as they discussed forming a business relationship. A month later, VDM and BioCorRx signed a Letter of Intent to Enter Definitive Agreement to Acquire Stake in Intellectual Property (the letter of intent). The letter of intent memorialized the parties’ shared desire whereby BioCorRx would partner with VDM to develop and commercialize VDM-001. BioCorRx and VDM never signed a formal contract concerning VDM-001. Their relationship eventually soured. BioCorRx filed a complaint (the complaint) against VDM; VDM cross-complained. In response, BioCorRx filed the anti-SLAPP motion at issue here, seeking to strike all the allegations from the cross-complaint concerning the press releases. The Court of Appeal found these statements fell within the commercial speech exemption of California's Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (the anti-SLAPP statute) because they were representations about BioCorRx’s business operations that were made to investors to promote its goods and services through the sale of its securities. Since these statements were not protected by the anti-SLAPP statute, the Court reversed the part of the trial court’s order granting the anti-SLAPP motion as to the press releases. The Court affirmed the unchallenged portion of the order striking unrelated allegations. View "BioCorRx, Inc. v. VDM Biochemicals, Inc." on Justia Law
Armadillo Hotel v. Harris
Plaintiff Armadillo Hotel Group, LLC (“Armadillo”) is a buyer and operator of modular and mobile structures throughout North America. According to Armadillo, Defendants Todd Harris and Jason McDaniel were hired in May 2019 to oversee Armadillo’s construction operations and its hotel, food, and beverage operations, respectively. McDaniel resigned in January 2021, Harris in July 2021. Harris and McDaniel asserted that they entered employment agreements with AHG Management as part of the joint venture, but AHG Management breached these agreements by failing to pay the agreed-upon salary, bonuses, and profit-sharing interests. They asserted claims of fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation, tortious interference, and unjust enrichment. Harris, McDaniel, SDRS, and BMC moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. The district court granted the non-GML defendants’ motion to dismiss with prejudice. The Fifth Circuit reversed. The court explained that it could not find sufficient information in the record to decide if Armadillo and AHG Management were in privity with each other. The fact that the same attorneys filed AHG Management’s amended state counterclaim and Armadillo’s federal complaint is insufficient to show privity. Accordingly, the court found that the district court did not have sufficient information or even assertions about the relationship of Armadillo and AHG Management to perform such an assessment. View "Armadillo Hotel v. Harris" on Justia Law
Van Sant & Co. v. Town of Calhan, et al.
Plaintiff Van Sant & Co. (Van Sant) owned and operated a mobile home park in Calhan, Colorado, for a number of years. In 2018, Van Sant began to publicly explore the possibility of converting its mobile home park to an RV park. In October 2018, Calhan adopted an ordinance that imposed regulations on the development of new RV parks, but also included a grandfather clause that effectively exempted the two existing RV parks in Calhan, one of which was connected to the grandparents of two members of Calhan’s Board of Trustees (Board) who voted in favor of the new RV park regulations. Van Sant subsequently filed suit against Calhan, several members of its Board, the owners of one of the existing RV parks, and other related individuals. asserting antitrust claims under the Sherman Act, as well as substantive due process and equal protection claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defendants successfully moved for summary judgment. Van Sant appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Van Sant & Co. v. Town of Calhan, et al." on Justia Law
Hanneman Family Funeral Home & Crematorium v. Orians
The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the trial court to grant summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this complaint alleging misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference with business contacts, tortious interference with business relationships, and conversion, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff, Hanneman Family Funeral Home and Crematorium, purchased a funeral home but did not retain the funeral home's director, Patrick Orians. Orians accepted employment at another funeral home, Chiles-Laman Funeral & Cremation Services, and used Plaintiff's customer information to solicit business for Chiles-Laman. Plaintiff sued Orians and Chiles-Laman (collectively, Defendants). The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the information at issue was not protected by the Ohio Uniform Trade Secrets Act as a trade secret; and (2) Plaintiff's tort claims were preempted by the Ohio Uniform Trade Secrets Act. View "Hanneman Family Funeral Home & Crematorium v. Orians" on Justia Law
Companions & Homemakers, Inc. v. A&B Homecare Solutions
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court awarding damages to Companions and Homemakers, Inc. for tortious interference with contractual and business relations and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq., holding that A&B Homecare Solutions, LLC was not entitled to relief on its allegations of error.Companions, the largest provide of Medicaid and state-funded home care services in Connecticut, brought this action against A&B. Following a jury trial, the trial court rendered judgment for Companions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in finding that A&B's misrepresentations were tortious; (2) the evidence was sufficient to establish that A&B's allegedly tortious interference cause Companions to suffer damages; and (3) the trial court did not err in finding that A&B's conduct was a violation of CUTPA. View "Companions & Homemakers, Inc. v. A&B Homecare Solutions" on Justia Law
Geomatrix, LLC v. NSF International
Septic systems comprise a septic tank that isolates and contains the sewage; the remaining wastewater flows through a drain field, where microorganisms treat it. Customers have two options for private septic systems—aerobic treatment units (contained systems), or soil-based/open-bottom treatment systems (T&D systems). Geomatrix markets and sells a T&D system, while many of its competitors sell contained systems.Since 1970, NSF has offered certification for the wastewater treatment industry, A manufacturer needs to obtain certification before marketing products in at least 37 states. This standard is developed through a voluntary consensus process, overseen by a joint committee staffed by NSF employees, state regulatory officers, industry manufacturers, and consumers. Geomatrix obtained certification. Geomatrix alleges that competitors then began conspiring against T&D systems, questioning whether T&D systems should be entitled to certification and disparaging the efficacy of T&D systems. The alleged conspiracy affected Geomatrix’s business by preventing it from obtaining state regulatory approval, although its certification should have made it possible to do so. Ultimately, Geomatrix withdrew its NSF certification. NSF has not adopted a new standard; discussions remain ongoing.Geomatrix filed suit, alleging violations of the Sherman Act and the Lanham Act. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The defendants’ petitioning activity was immunized under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine. Geomatrix failed to show the proximate cause required for its unfair competition claims, and its promissory estoppel claims were based on statements that did not state a sufficiently definite promise. View "Geomatrix, LLC v. NSF International" on Justia Law