Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation
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The case involves a dispute over the antitrust implications of a settlement agreement between Forest Laboratories, a brand manufacturer of the high-blood pressure drug Bystolic, and seven manufacturers of generic versions of Bystolic. The settlement agreement was reached after Forest Laboratories initiated patent-infringement litigation against the generic manufacturers. As part of the settlement, Forest Laboratories entered into separate business transactions with each generic manufacturer, paying them for goods and services.The plaintiffs, purchasers of Bystolic and its generic equivalents, filed a lawsuit against Forest Laboratories and the generic manufacturers, alleging that the payments constituted unlawful “reverse” settlement payments intended to delay the market entry of generic Bystolic. The plaintiffs' claims were dismissed twice by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for failure to state a claim.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court found that the plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege that any of Forest’s payments were unjustified or unexplained, instead of constituting fair value for goods and services obtained as a result of arms-length dealings. The court also held that the district court’s application of the pleading law was appropriate. The court concluded that the plaintiffs did not plausibly allege that Forest’s payments were a pretext for nefarious anticompetitive motives rather than payments that constituted fair value for goods and services obtained as a result of arms-length dealings. View "In re Bystolic Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law

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The case involves Symons Emergency Specialties (Symons), a provider of ambulance services, and the City of Riverside. The City regulates ambulance services within its limits under the Riverside Municipal Code (RMC), which requires operators to obtain a valid franchise or permit. Symons filed a civil complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the City, arguing that the RMC section requiring a permit is invalid under the Emergency Medical Services System and Prehospital Emergency Medical Care Act (EMS Act). The dispute centered on whether the City had regulated nonemergency ambulance services as of June 1, 1980, which would allow it to continue doing so under the EMS Act's grandfathering provisions.The trial court found in favor of the City, concluding that Symons had failed to meet its burden of proof. Symons appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in admitting certain testimonies, that the court's factual finding was not supported by substantial evidence, and that the RMC section violated federal anti-trust law.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Fourth Appellate District Division Two affirmed the trial court's decision. The appellate court found no error in the admission of testimonies, concluded that substantial evidence supported the trial court's findings, and rejected Symons's anti-trust argument. The court held that the City's regulation of ambulance services did not violate the EMS Act or federal anti-trust law. View "Symons Emergency Specialties v. City of Riverside" on Justia Law

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This case involves a dozen gas stations in the Green Bay, Wisconsin area, who alleged that Costco Wholesale Corporation violated a Wisconsin law prohibiting the sale of gasoline below a statutorily defined cost. The plaintiffs sought an injunction to prevent Costco from selling gasoline below that level and damages of over half a million dollars each. Costco argued that it lowered its prices to match a competitor's price, which the statute allows, and that the plaintiffs failed to establish the causal element of the statutory claim.The case was initially heard in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, which sided with Costco and awarded it summary judgment. The plaintiffs appealed this decision, challenging both the summary judgment and an evidentiary ruling made earlier in the proceedings.The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision. The court found that for 238 of the 256 days in question, Costco was immune from liability under the "meeting competition" exception in the Wisconsin law. For the remaining 18 days, the court found that the plaintiffs failed to show that they were injured or threatened with injury as a result of Costco's actions. The court also upheld the lower court's denial of the plaintiffs' request to supplement their expert report. View "Pit Row, Inc. v. Costco Wholesale Corporation" on Justia Law

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This case involves a dispute between plaintiffs Michelle Beverage and Joseph Mejia, and defendant Apple, Inc. The plaintiffs filed a class action complaint alleging that Apple's restrictive contractual terms and coercive conduct towards software developers on its App Store constituted unlawful and unfair practices that violated the Cartwright Act and the Unfair Competition Law (UCL). The plaintiffs specifically focused on Apple's treatment of one developer, Epic Games, Inc., and its gaming application, Fortnite. The trial court sustained a demurrer brought by Apple without leave to amend, applying the Colgate doctrine and the holding of Chavez v. Whirlpool Corporation. The court determined that the plaintiffs did not and could not state causes of action under either legal regime as a matter of law.The trial court's decision was based on the application of the Colgate doctrine and the holding of Chavez v. Whirlpool Corporation. The court found that the plaintiffs did not and could not state causes of action under either the Cartwright Act or the UCL as a matter of law. The plaintiffs appealed only one aspect of the trial court's ruling, arguing that the court erred by relying on Chavez to sustain the demurrer to their UCL cause of action alleging unfair practices by Apple towards Epic Games.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Sixth Appellate District affirmed the trial court's judgment. The appellate court disagreed with the plaintiffs' argument that Chavez was inconsistent with the California Supreme Court’s decision in Cel-Tech Communications, Inc. v. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Company. The court found that the trial court correctly relied on Chavez to sustain the demurrer without leave to amend. The court held that the plaintiffs did not state a claim as a matter of law under the "unfair" prong of the UCL, considering the trial court's ruling that Apple's practices constituted permissible unilateral conduct. View "Beverage v. Apple, Inc." on Justia Law

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The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated an investigation into potentially anti-competitive practices in the real estate industry by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). In November 2020, the DOJ and NAR reached a settlement, and the DOJ sent a letter to NAR stating that it had closed its investigation and that NAR was not required to respond to two outstanding investigative subpoenas. However, in July 2021, the DOJ withdrew the proposed consent judgment, reopened its investigation, and issued a new investigative subpoena. NAR petitioned the district court to set aside the subpoena, arguing that its issuance violated a promise made by the DOJ in the 2020 closing letter. The district court granted NAR’s petition, concluding that the new subpoena was barred by a validly executed settlement agreement.The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit disagreed with the district court's decision. The court held that the plain language of the disputed 2020 letter permits the DOJ to reopen its investigation. The court noted that the closing of an investigation does not guarantee that the investigation would stay closed forever. The court also pointed out that NAR gained several benefits from the closing of the DOJ’s pending investigation in 2020, including relief from its obligation to respond to the two outstanding subpoenas. Therefore, the court reversed the judgment of the district court. View "National Association of Realtors v. United States" on Justia Law

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This consolidated opinion, delivered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, pertains to the appeals of defendants Richard Tipton and James Roane, Jr. Both were convicted in 1993 and sentenced to death and multiple years in prison for involvement in a drug-related enterprise that also included firearms, murders, and other racketeering activity. They have consistently sought post-conviction relief, and in light of recent Supreme Court decisions, they contested their sentences related to their firearm-related 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) convictions in 1993.The court affirmed the district court's decisions, rejecting the defendants' challenges to their § 924(c) sentences. The court concluded that Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering Activity (VICAR) murder constitutes a "crime of violence" under § 924(c). The defendants failed to demonstrate that there was more than a reasonable possibility that the jury did not rely on the valid VICAR murder predicate for any of their § 924(c) convictions. Therefore, the validity of any other alleged § 924(c) predicate did not need to be decided. The court held that the defendants' § 924(c) convictions and sentences were legally sound. View "United States v. Tipton" on Justia Law

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The case was heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit between Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the plaintiff-appellant, against Novartis Pharma AG and associates, the defendants-appellees. Regeneron appealed the judgment from the district court which dismissed its claims of antitrust violations and tortious interference with contract under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).Regeneron and Novartis both manufacture medications to treat overproduction of a specific protein. The crux of the dispute was whether the medications, which come in vials and prefilled syringes (PFSs), compete in the same or in different product markets. Regeneron claimed that Novartis and its co-defendant Vetter Pharma International GmbH concealed their collaboration to produce a PFS version of Novartis’s drug, thereby delaying the launch of Regeneron's own PFS version and allowing Novartis to increase its market share.The district court had granted the motion to dismiss, reasoning that Regeneron failed to plausibly allege that the relevant antitrust market was limited to PFSs. The court also dismissed Regeneron’s tortious interference claim as untimely.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the lower court's decision. The appellate court held that Regeneron had provided a plausible explanation that the market for PFSs was distinct from that for vials. It also held that Regeneron adequately pleaded that Novartis was equitably estopped from asserting a statute of limitations defense to the tortious interference claim. The case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with the appellate court’s opinion. View "Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Novartis Pharma AG" on Justia Law

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The case in question is a petition for a writ of mandamus filed by Abbott Laboratories, Abbvie Inc., Abbvie Products LLC, Unimed Pharmaceuticals LLC, and Besins Healthcare, Inc. These petitioners were involved in a patent and antitrust lawsuit concerning the drug AndroGel 1%. They sought a writ of mandamus after a district judge ruled that the application of the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege justified an order compelling the production of certain documents. The Petitioners claimed those documents were privileged.The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied their petition. The court reasoned that the petitioners failed to meet the high standard for granting a petition for writ of mandamus. Specifically, they failed to show a clear and indisputable abuse of discretion or error of law, a lack of an alternate avenue for adequate relief, and a likelihood of irreparable injury.The court also found that the district court did not err in its interpretation of the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege as it applies to sham litigation. The court held that sham litigation, which involves a client’s intentional “misuse” of the legal process for an “improper purpose,” can trigger the crime-fraud exception. The court also rejected the argument that a "reliance" requirement must be applied in this context. View "In re: Abbott Laboratories" on Justia Law

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In this case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the plaintiffs were U.S. investors who purchased Mexican government bonds. They alleged that the defendants, Mexican branches of several multinational banks, conspired to fix the prices of the bonds. The defendants sold the bonds to the plaintiffs through non-party broker-dealers. The defendants moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, and the District Court granted the motion, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction as the alleged misconduct, price-fixing of bonds, occurred solely in Mexico.Upon appeal, the Second Circuit vacated and remanded the case. The court found that the defendants had sufficient minimum contacts with New York as they had solicited and executed bond sales through their agents, the broker-dealers. The plaintiffs' claims arose from or were related to these contacts. The court rejected the defendants' argument that the alleged wrongdoing must occur in the jurisdiction for personal jurisdiction to exist, stating that the defendants' alleged active sales of price-fixed bonds through their agents in New York sufficed to establish personal jurisdiction. The court remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "In re: Mexican Government Bonds Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law

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A group of 18 pension and retirement funds and other investors alleged that 10 large banks conspired to rig U.S. Treasury auctions and boycott the emergence of direct, "all-to-all" trading between buy-side investors on the secondary market for Treasuries. The alleged conspiracies violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The investors failed to demonstrate that the banks formed an anticompetitive agreement, which is necessary to plead their antitrust claims. The allegations of wrongful information-sharing amounted to inconsequential market chatter and their statistical analyses were not sufficiently focused on the defendant banks. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the lawsuit, agreeing that the investors failed to plausibly allege that the banks engaged in a conspiracy to rig Treasury auctions or to conduct a boycott on the secondary market. View "In re Treasury Securities Auction Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law