by
This matter stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the State of Mississippi against the defendant pharmacies. The State alleged deceptive trade practices and fraudulent reporting of inflated “usual and customary” prices in the defendant’s reimbursement requests to the Mississippi Department of Medicaid. The State argued that Walgreens, CVS, and Fred’s pharmacies purposefully misrepresented these prices to obtain higher prescription drug reimbursements from the State. Finding that the circuit court was better equipped to preside over this action, the DeSoto County Chancery Court transferred the matter to the DeSoto County Circuit Court in response to the defendants’ request. Aggrieved, the State timely filed an interlocutory appeal disputing the chancellor’s decision to transfer the case. After a thorough review of the parties’ positions, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that though the chancery court properly could have retained the action, the chancellor correctly used his discretion to transfer the case, allowing the issues to proceed in front of a circuit-court jury. As a result, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s decision. View "Mississippi v. Walgreen Co." on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action brought by consumers and purchasers of beer under section 7 of the Clayton Act, seeking to enjoin Anheuser-Busch from acquiring SAB. The DOJ required, as a condition of approving the transaction, that SAB divest entirely its domestic beer business. The panel held that plaintiffs failed to state a claim under section 7, because the divestiture left SAB without a presence in the U.S. beer market and thus plaintiffs did not and could not plausibly allege that Annheuser-Busch's acquisition of SAB would substantially lessen competition in that market. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the complaint with prejudice. View "DeHoog v. Anheuser-Busch" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action alleging that USATF and the Olympics Committee engaged in an anticompetitive conspiracy in violation of antitrust law when it imposed advertising restrictions during the Olympic Trials for track and field athletes. The panel held that the Olympics Committee and USATF were entitled to implied antitrust immunity on the basis that their advertising restrictions were integral to performance of their duties under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act. The panel noted that an injunction preventing enforcement of the advertisement regulation would open the floodgates to potential advertisers, some of which might enhance the Olympic brand and some of which might devalue the Olympic brand. View "Gold Medal LLC v. USA Track & Field" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for CES in a class action alleging that natural gas companies colluded to fix retail natural gas prices in Wisconsin. CES, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliant, asserted that it acted innocently and without knowledge of its parent company's price-fixing scheme. The panel held that Supreme Court precedent established that a parent and a wholly owned subsidiary always have a unity of purpose and thus act as a single enterprise whenever they engage in coordinated activity. Copperweld Corp. v. Indep. Tube Corp., 467 U.S. 752 (1984). In this case, plaintiffs raised a triable issue of CES's anticompetitive intent; plaintiffs' evidence was sufficient to raise a triable issue of whether CES knowingly acted to further the alleged price-fixing scheme; any knowledge of the alleged price-fixing scheme that CES's directors and officers acquired while concurrently acting as directors or officers of the other Reliant companies was imputable to CES as a matter of Wisconsin law; and plaintiffs submitted sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue under the Sherman Act – and Wisconsin Statute 133.03(1) – as to whether CES participated in coordinated activity in furtherance of the alleged inter-enterprise price-fixing conspiracy. View "Arandell Corp. v. CenterPoint Energy Services, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action alleging that defendants conspired to boycott Anderson and drive it out of business, in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act. The court reviewed the evidence in light of the totality of the circumstances and under the "tends to exclude" standard under Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588 (1986), and held that the district court correctly ruled that Anderson failed to offer sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer that defendants entered into such an unlawful agreement. In this case, defendants refused to pay Anderson's proposed delivery surcharge and found other wholesalers to deliver their magazines. The court also held that the district court correctly ruled that defendants did not suffer an antitrust injury and thus lacked antitrust standing to pursue counterclaims. View "Anderson News, LLC v. American Media, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of Respondents on Appellants’ claim that Respondents conspired with a third party to obtain exclusive franchise agreements with the City of Reno for the collection of waste and recyclable materials, holding that Appellants lacked standing to assert their claim under the Nevada Unfair Trade Practice Act (UTPA) because they were unable to show that they suffered any injuries. Appellants claimed that Respondents’ conspiracy with the third party precluded them from receiving a franchise agreement with the City. The district court concluded that, in terms of damages, Appellants lacked standing to assert a UTPA claim because they were not qualified to service a franchise zone, they never sought to be considered for a franchise zone, and the City determined that they were not qualified waste haulers. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellants lacked antitrust standing because they did not make any showing that they suffered any injuries from Respondents’ alleged conspiracy. View "Nevada Recycling & Salvage, Ltd. v. Reno Disposal Co., Inc." on Justia Law

by
Professional golf caddies filed suit against the PGA Tour after it required them to wear bibs containing advertisements at professional golfing events. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of all claims with prejudice, holding that the caddies consented to wearing the bibs and that they did not do so under economic duress. Therefore, the caddies failed to state claims for breach of contract and quasi-contract relief, California state law publicity claims, a Lanham Act false endorsement claim, or a plausible economic duress claim. The panel also held that the caddies failed to allege plausibly that the Tour secured their consent through economic duress, and thus the district court properly dismissed the antitrust claims for failure to state a relevant market and the California unfair competition claims for failure to plead that any of the Tour's conduct was unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent. The panel remanded to allow the district court to reconsider whether to grant the caddies leave to amend their federal antitrust and California unfair competition claims. View "Hicks v. PGA Tour, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in this dispute between Associated Management Services, Inc. (AMS) and Daniel R. Ruff and Ruff Software, Inc. (collectively, Ruff) over the parties’ relative rights regarding the web-based payroll processing software, TimeTracker, developed by Ruff and licensed to AMS. The district court granted summary judgment to Ruff on AMS’s claims and granted summary judgment to AMS on Ruff’s counterclaims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in ruling that the 2008 licensing agreement was valid and enforceable and that AMS had no right to TimeTracker other than as provided under the terms of the agreement; (2) correctly granted summary judgment on the Ruff counterclaims for breach of the licensing agreement, tortious conversion, contract and tortious misappropriation of intellectual property, violation of the Montana Uniform Trade Secrets Act, tortious interference with business relations or prospective economic advantage, and unjust enrichment; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in denying Ruff’s second motion to compel or claim for attorney fees. View "Associated Management Services, Inc. v. Ruff" on Justia Law

by
Xlear, Inc. and Focus Nutrition, LLC were both in the business of selling sweeteners that used the sugar alcohol xylitol. Xlear filed a complaint raising a trade dress infringement claim under the Lanham Act, a claim under the Utah Truth in Advertising Act (UTIAA), and a claim under the common law for unfair competition. The claims all alleged that Focus Nutrition copied the packaging Xlear used for one of its sweetener products. Focus Nutrition moved to dismiss Xlear’s Lanham Act claim. At a hearing on Focus Nutrition’s motion to dismiss, the district court judge made several comments questioning the validity of Xlear’s Lanham Act claim but, ultimately, denied the motion. Following the hearing, the parties, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(ii), stipulated to the dismissal of all claims with prejudice. Under the stipulation, the parties reserved the right to seek attorneys’ fees and Focus Nutrition exercised its right by filing a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 to recover its fees under the Lanham Act and the UTIAA. The district court concluded that Focus Nutrition was a prevailing party under both the Lanham Act and the UTIAA, and that Focus Nutrition was entitled to all of its requested fees. On appeal, Xlear raised five challenges to the district court’s order. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees under the Lanham Act because Focus Nutrition was not a prevailing party under federal law. As to the UTIAA, the Court vacated the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees and remanded for further proceedings to permit the district court to analyze the factors governing prevailing party status under Utah law and, if the court concluded Focus Nutrition was a prevailing party under the UTIAA, to determine what portion of the requested fees Focus Nutrition incurred in defense of the UTIAA claim and the reasonableness of the requested fees. View "Xlear v. Focus Nutrition" on Justia Law

by
Deppe, a punter, enrolled at Northern Illinois University (NIU), a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I school, in 2014 without an athletic scholarship. Deppe decided to “red shirt” his first year; he practiced with the team but did not compete, so the clock did not run on his four years of NCAA athletic eligibility. In 2015 NIU signed another punter, so he looked for a new program. Coaches at the University of Iowa, another Division I school, told Deppe they wanted him if he would be eligible to compete during the 2016–2017 season. The NCAA indicated that under its year-in-residence rule, Deppe would be ineligible to compete for one year following his transfer. An exception permitting a one-time transfer with immediate athletic eligibility in limited circumstances was unavailable to Deppe. A player who transfers under extenuating circumstances may obtain a waiver of the NCAA’s requirement that a student’s four years of playing time be completed in five calendar years; the school to which he transfers must initiate the process. Iowa's football staff notified Deppe that the team had decided to pursue another punter who had immediate eligibility and would not initiate the process for him. Deppe sued the NCAA on behalf of himself and a proposed class alleging violations of the Sherman Act. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal. The year-in-residence requirement is an eligibility rule clearly meant to preserve the amateur character of college athletics, is therefore presumptively procompetitive, and need not be tested for anticompetitive effect under a full rule-of-reason analysis. View "Deppe v. National Collegiate Athletic Association" on Justia Law