Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion Summaries

by
Defendants JABA Associates LP and its general partners appealed the district court’s judgment granting summary judgment to Plaintiff, (“Trustee”), pursuant to the Securities Investor Protection Act of 1970 (“SIPA”). JABA was a good faith customer of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (“BLMIS”) and held BLMIS Account Number 1EM357 (the “JABA Account”). The Trustee brought this action to recover the allegedly fictitious profits transferred from BLMIS to Defendants in the two years prior to BLMIS’s filing for bankruptcy. The district court granted recovery of $2,925,000 that BLMIS transferred to Defendants in the two years prior to BLMIS’s filing for bankruptcy, which made it recoverable property under SIPA.Defendants appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment. The Second Appellate District affirmed reasoning that because is no genuine dispute of material fact that Bernard L. Madoff transferred the assets of his business to Defendants, which made it recoverable property under SIPA, the district court properly granted summary judgment to Plaintiff. The court reasoned that here Here, Defendants argue that the Bankruptcy Code does not authorize an award of prejudgment interest because the statute is silent. Yet Defendants do not make any argument that this silence is dispositive. Further, the court wrote that prejudgment interest has been awarded against other similarly situated defendants in related SIPA litigation. Thus, the district court appropriately balanced the equities between the parties. Given this, the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting an award of 4 percent prejudgment interest to the Trustee. View "In re: Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC" on Justia Law

by
BRFHH Shreveport sued Willis-Knighton Medical Center for antitrust violations. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court held (A) BRF’s Section 1 claim fails because BRF hasn’t plausibly alleged an agreement between Willis-Knighton and LSU. Then the court held (B) BRF’s Section 2 claim fails because BRF hasn’t plausibly alleged market foreclosure.   The court explained that BRF’s complaint fails because the complaint alleges that Willis-Knighton’s exclusive dealing arrangement affected the upstream market for physician services. Then the complaint alleges foreclosure in the downstream medical services market. But BRF doesn’t adequately connect the two. First, the complaint already chose which market to allege. And it chose to focus on downstream markets for healthcare services—not the upstream market for physicians. BRF can’t change horses midstream. Second, though the complaint asserts that BRF had no choice but to get physicians from LSU, it admits this was a pre-existing “provision in the hospital by-laws.” So even if the restriction threatened substantial foreclosure— which BRF hasn’t alleged—BRF still would’ve failed to plead causation. View "BRFHH Shreveport v. Willis-Knighton" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the administrative hearing commission (AHC) finding beyond Housing, Inc. and Pagedale Town Center II, LLC (PTC II) qualify for sales and use tax exemptions as charitable organizations pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.030.2(19), holding that the AHC's decision was proper.On appeal, the director of the department of revenue argued, among other things, that the HAC erred in determining that Beyond Housing and PTC II could qualify as a charitable organization because Beyond Housing was previously granted civic exemptions and, the director claimed, the statutory categories of charitable and civic exemptions are mutually exclusive classifications. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the AHC did not err in finding Beyond Housing and PTC II qualified for the charitable exemption; and (2) the AHC’s determination that Beyond Housing and PTC II qualified for sales and use tax exemptions as charities was supported by competent and substantial evidence and comported with the law. View "Beyond Housing, Inc. v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

by
Mayfield manufactures a football helmet accessory that purportedly reduces the severity of football helmet impact when it is installed on an existing football helmet. Mayfield sued the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), a nonprofit organization that develops and promotes safety standards for athletic equipment. It has a safety certification that can be applied to football helmets that meet NOCSAE’s standards. NOCSAE does not permit manufacturers of helmet accessories to seek certification separately from the helmet manufacturers.Mayfield alleged that NOCSAE and helmet manufacturers are restraining trade in the football helmet market, engaging in an overarching conspiracy to limit competition, and subjecting Mayfield to tortious interference of business relationships or expectations. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. In its claims under the Sherman Act section 1, Mayfield cited scenarios, theories, and occurrences and asked the court to make "sweeping conclusions" about the motives and actions of the defendants. An “explicit agreement,” as required for Sherman Act liability, "should not demand this kind of intellectual leap." The defendants have shown that their desire to protect their reputations and sell safe products is a legitimate business interest. View "Hobart-Mayfield, Inc. v. National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment" on Justia Law

by
Appellants (the “Bullion Traders”) are a collection of in-state and out-of-state precious metal traders or representatives thereof challenging the constitutionality of Minnesota Statutes Chapter 80G, which regulates bullion transactions. The Bullion Traders argue the statute violates the dormant Commerce Clause.   The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court’s partial grant of the Commissioner’s motion to dismiss and the district court’s partial denial of the Bullion Traders’ motion for summary judgment. On remand, the court left to the district court to decide in the first instance whether the extraterritorial provisions of Chapter 80G, as amended, are severable from the remainder of the statute.   The court explained that certain in-state obligations, such as a registration fee for traders doing business in Minnesota, even when calculated considering out-of-state transactions, do not control out-of-state commerce. However, Chapter 80G does not merely burden in-state dealers with a monetary obligation that considers both in-state and out-of-state transactions. Rather, it prohibits an in-state dealer who meets the $25,000 threshold from conducting any bullion transaction, including out-of-state transactions, without first registering with the Commissioner. View "Thomas Styczinski v. Grace Arnold" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs are oil-field manufacturing and services companies (collectively, “Chandler”) who brought Walker Process fraud and sham patent litigation claims against defendants Phoenix Services, LLC, and its CEO, Mark Fisher (collectively, “Phoenix”). The patent at issue here is U.S. Patent No. 8,171,993 (the “’993 Patent”), which was issued to Mark Hefley, founder of Heat On-The-Fly, LLC (“HOTF”). The district court dismissed some of the claims for lack of standing and others as time-barred. The case was then appealed to the Federal Circuit, but the Federal Circuit found the case had no live patent issues and so transferred the case to the Fifth Circuit.Both parties moved for summary judgment, to support its claims, Chandler alleged Phoenix was liable as HOTF’s parent company for two anticompetitive acts involving the ’993 Patent. Chandler and Phoenix cross-moved for summary judgment. The Fifth Circuit accepted the case and affirmed the district court’s judgment. The court explained that it cannot find the Federal Circuit’s decision implausible. Next, turning to the merits, the court found that the district court correctly found a lack of substantial evidence that the cease-and-desist letter materially caused Supertherm’s lost profits. Finally, because the district court correctly ruled that tolling does not apply, Chandler’s claims are time-barred. View "Chandler v. Phoenix Services" on Justia Law

by
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) initiated an enforcement action against several entities and individuals. The district court granted the unopposed motion and appointed Appellee as receiver, authorizing him to “take custody, control, and possession of all Receivership Entity records, documents, and materials” and to “take any other action as necessary and appropriate for the preservation of the Receivership Entities’ property interests.” Defendants didn’t appeal the order appointing Appellee as receiver. The district court granted the motion. Defendants appealed, contending that they weren’t afforded an adequate opportunity to be heard before the receivership estate’s expansion. Appellee has moved to dismiss Defendants’ appeal for lack of jurisdiction.The Eleventh Circuit dismissed the appeal. The court found that neither Section 1292(a)(2) nor Section 1292(a)(1) grants the court jurisdiction to consider the appeal because the expansion order was neither an order appointing a receiver nor an order granting (or modifying) an injunction. The court explained that to the extent that the appointment of the receiver or the expansion of his duties could be viewed as an injunction at all, the district court possessed freestanding authority to enter it. Given that the district court had both statutory and residual equitable authority to establish and expand the receivership, it had no cause to invoke the All Writs Act to aid its jurisdiction. View "Securities & Exchange Commission v. L.M.E. 2017 Family Trust, et al." on Justia Law

by
CAE Integrated L.L.C. and Capital Asset Exchange and Trading, L.L.C. (collectively CAE) sued its former employee and his current employer, Moov, for misappropriation of trade secrets and then moved for a preliminary injunction. The district court denied the preliminary injunction and CAE appealed.   The Fifth Circuit affirmed the denial finding that CAE failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits of its claims. The court considered that trade secret information derives independent economic value from being not generally known or readily ascertainable through proper means. What CAE refers to as the “transactional documents” are files from Google Drive with purchase orders, invoices, customer equipment needs, and pricing history. The former employee has not had access to his MacBook since 2016 and he testified that Google Drive contained none of the transactional documents when he started at Moov. The district court found the employee’s testimony credible and the forensic analysis confirmed that before the employee began at Moov, he deleted any remaining transactional documents from his Google Drive. Therefore, the district court did not clearly err in finding that neither the employee nor Moov misappropriated trade secrets. Further, even if CAE had established that the employee or Moov misappropriated trade secrets, it failed to show the use or potential use of trade secrets. View "CAE Integrated v. Moov Technologies" on Justia Law

by
In this appeal from an antidumping investigation of biodiesel from Argentina the Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of the United States Court of International Trade, holding that two challenged calculations Commerce used to determine antidumping duties were supported by substantial evidence.The two calculations at issue were export price and constructed value of the subject biodiesel, a renewable fuels subject to traceable tax credits. In calculating export price, Commerce subtracted the value of the traceable credits, calling them price adjustments under 19 C.F.R. 351.401(c). Calculating constructed normal value of the biodiesel, Commerce used an international market price for soybeans, the price of which is subsidized in Argentina. Appellant argued that correcting for the soybean subsidy in the export price constituted an improper double remedy. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding (1) substantial evidence supported the value Commerce used for the traceable "price adjustment" credits; and (2) substantial evidence supported the constructed value calculation, and the calculation did not result in a double remedy. View "Vicentin S.A.I.C. v. United States" on Justia Law

by
The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this complaint alleging that certain patents related to the medicine Humira and the settlement of litigation about them violated sections one and two of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. 1 & 2, holding that dismissal was proper.At the end of 2016, the basic U.S. patient for Humira, a monoclonal antibody, expired. AbbVie, Humira's owner, obtained 132 additional patents related to the medicine for issues such as manufacturing or administering the drug, the last of which expires in 2034. Plaintiffs, welfare-benefit plans that paid for Humira on behalf of covered beneficiaries, brought this complaint alleging that AbbVie violated the Sherman Act by obtaining the 132 patents. The district court dismissed the complaint. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to state a claim under the Sherman Act. View "Mayor & City Council of Baltimore v. AbbVie Inc." on Justia Law