Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Business Law
Laydon v. Coöperatieve Rabobank U.A., et al.
Plaintiff brought this putative class action against more than twenty banks and brokers, alleging a conspiracy to manipulate two benchmark rates known as Yen-LIBOR and Euroyen TIBOR. Plaintiff brought claims under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), and the Sherman Antitrust Act, and sought leave to assert claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”). The district court dismissed the CEA and antitrust claims and denied leave to add the RICO claims. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred by holding that the CEA claims were impermissibly extraterritorial, that he lacked antitrust standing to assert a Sherman Act claim, and that he failed to allege proximate causation for his proposed RICO claims. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the conduct—i.e., that the bank defendants presented fraudulent submissions to an organization based in London that set a benchmark rate related to a foreign currency—occurred almost entirely overseas. Indeed, Plaintiff fails to allege any significant acts that took place in the United States. Plaintiff’s CEA claims are based predominantly on foreign conduct and are thus impermissibly extraterritorial. Further, the court wrote that the district court also correctly concluded that Plaintiff lacked antitrust standing because he would not be an efficient enforcer of the antitrust laws. Lastly, the court agreed that Plaintiff failed to allege proximate causation for his RICO claims. View "Laydon v. Coöperatieve Rabobank U.A., et al." on Justia Law
In re: Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC
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
BRFHH Shreveport v. Willis-Knighton
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
Hobart-Mayfield, Inc. v. National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment
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
Thomas Styczinski v. Grace Arnold
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
Securities & Exchange Commission v. L.M.E. 2017 Family Trust, et al.
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
CAE Integrated v. Moov Technologies
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
Examination Board, et al. v. International Association, et al.
Competing trade associations offered memberships to home inspectors, who typically inspect homes prior to home sales. Benefits of membership in the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) included online advertising to home buyers, educational resources, online training, and free services such as logo design. From 2015 to 2020, ASHI featured the slogan “American Society of Home Inspectors. Educated. Tested. Verified. Certified” on its website. Contending that tagline mislead consumers, InterNACHI sued ASHI under the federal Lanham Act, claiming the line constituted false advertising because it inaccurately portrayed ASHI’s entire membership as being educated, tested, verified, and certified, even though its membership includes so-called “novice” inspectors who had yet to complete training or become certified. InterNACHI argued this misleading advertising and ASHI’s willingness to promote novice inspectors to the public caused InterNACHI to lose potential members and dues revenues. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of ASHI, concluding no reasonable jury could find that InterNACHI was injured by ASHI’s allegedly false commercial advertising. To this, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals concurred: because InterNACHI did not present any evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that InterNACHI was injured by ASHI’s slogan, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment for ASHI. View "Examination Board, et al. v. International Association, et al." on Justia Law
Host International Inc v. MarketPlace PHL LLC
Host operates airport concessions. MarketPlace is the landlord at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). After competitive bidding, Host won PHL concession spots, planning to open a coffee shop and a restaurant. MarketPlace insisted on a lease term allowing it to grant “third-parties exclusive or semi-exclusive rights to be sole providers" of certain foods and beverages, including a “pouring-rights agreement” (PRA), “granting a beverage manufacturer, bottler, distributor or other company (e.g., Pepsi or Coca-Cola) the exclusive control over beverage products advertised, sold and served at [PHL].”Host abandoned the deal and sued, alleging that MarketPlace would receive payoffs from a “big soda company” courtesy of an exclusive PRA. The complaint alleged an unlawful tying arrangement and an illegal conspiracy and agreement in restraint of trade, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The district court dismissed the case with prejudice, finding Host failed to adequately plead a relevant geographic market. The Third Circuit affirmed. Host lacks antitrust standing and has not adequately pled a violation of the Sherman Act. Host alleged harm only to itself; failure to secure preferred contractual terms is not an antitrust injury. Host was not being forced to purchase any product. MarketPlace’s control over the non-alcoholic beverage suppliers at PHL does not stem from market power but from its role as a landlord. View "Host International Inc v. MarketPlace PHL LLC" on Justia Law
Thornhill Motor Car, Inc. v. Honorable Miki Thompson
The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition sought by Thornhill Motor Care, Inc. to prevent the Circuit Court of Mingo County from enforcing its order denying Petitioner's motion to dismiss based on improper venue, holding that Thornhill established that it was entitled to the writ.Moore Chrysler, Inc. brought this action against Thornhill in Mingo County, alleging violations of W. Va. Code 17A-6A-1 to -18 and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Thornhill moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to W. Va. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3) on the basis of improper venue, asserting that the proper venue for this lawsuit was in Logan County pursuant to the general venue statute, W. Va. Code 56-1-1. The circuit court denied the motion, basing its ruling on a specific venue statute, W. Va. Code 17A-6A-12(3), which governs declaratory judgment actions brought by new motor vehicle dealers against manufacturers or distributors. Thornhill then sought the writ of prohibition at issue. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that the circuit court committed clear legal error in applying section 17A-6A-12(3) rather than section 56-1-1. View "Thornhill Motor Car, Inc. v. Honorable Miki Thompson" on Justia Law