Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
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
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
Allstate Insurance Co. v. Fougere
The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Allstate Insurance Company and dismissing the counterclaims brought by two of Allstate's former agents - James Fougere and Sarah Brody-Isbill - and A Better Insurance Agency, Inc. (ABIA) (collectively, Appellants), holding that there was no error.At issue in the underlying case were spreadsheets that Allstate alleged contained trade secrets misappropriated by Brody-Isbill and Fougere, thus breaching their contracts with Allstate. Allstate filed suit alleging claims for, among other things, breach of contract and trade secrets, violations of the Defend Trade Secrets Act, 28 U.S.C. 1836. Appellants counterclaimed, alleging claims for, inter alia, wrongful interference with contractual relations and violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A. The district court granted summary judgment for Allstate and dismissed Appellants' counterclaims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in dismissing Appellants' counterclaims; and (2) did not abuse its discretion in granting summary judgment to Allstate on liability for its trade secret and contract claims against Appellants. View "Allstate Insurance Co. v. Fougere" on Justia Law
Monsanto Co. v. Kilgore
The Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari or, in the alternative, a writ of prohibition, writ of mandamus or other supervisory writ, holding that the circuit court did not misinterpret the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure in the underlying discovery matter.Respondents filed a complaint against Monsanto Company alleging claims for design defect, failure to warn, negligence, breach of implied warranties, violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and loss of consortium. After Respondents served Monsanto with a deposition notice Monsanto moved for a protective order arguing that the deposition was not permitted. The circuit court denied Monsanto's motion for protective order. Monsanto then brought this petition. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding that Monsanto was seeking to control the circuit court's exercise of its discretion in this discovery matter and that mandamus will not lie for this purpose. View "Monsanto Co. v. Kilgore" on Justia Law
EPIC GAMES, INC. V. APPLE, INC.
Epic Games, Inc. sued Apple, Inc. pursuant to the Sherman Act and California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL). Epic contends that Apple acted unlawfully by restricting app distribution on iOS devices to Apple’s App Store, requiring in-app purchases on iOS devices to use Apple’s in-app payment processor, and limiting the ability of app developers to communicate the availability of alternative payment options to iOS device users. Apple counter-sued for breach of contract and indemnification for its attorney fees arising from this litigation. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s judgment, after a bench trial, against Epic Games on its Sherman Act claims for restraint of trade, tying, and monopoly maintenance against Apple, Inc.; in favor of Epic on its UCL claim; against Epic on Apple’s claim for breach of contract; and against Apple on its claim for attorney fees. The panel affirmed except for the district court’s ruling respecting attorney fees, where it reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The panel affirmed the district court’s denial of antitrust liability and its corresponding rejection of Epic’s illegality defense to Apple’s breach of contract counter-claim. The panel held that the district court erred as a matter of law in defining the relevant antitrust market, but those errors were harmless. The panel held that independent of the district court’s errors, Epic failed to establish, as a factual matter, its proposed market definition and the existence of any substantially less restrictive alternative means for Apple to accomplish the procompetitive justifications supporting iOS’s walled garden ecosystem. View "EPIC GAMES, INC. V. APPLE, INC." on Justia Law
Direct Biologics v. McQueen
Direct Biologics, LLC (“DB”) brought claims for breach of covenant to not compete and misappropriation of trade secrets against Adam McQueen, DB’s former employee, and Vivex Biologics, Inc. (“Vivex”), McQueen’s new employer. After granting DB a temporary restraining order based on its trade secret claims, the district court denied DB’s application for a preliminary injunction. Finding that DB’s claims were subject to arbitration, the district court also dismissed DB’s claims against McQueen and Vivex and entered final judgment. The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court’s orders denying DB’s motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissing DB’s claims and remanded. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by declining to presume irreparable injury based on McQueen’s breach of his non-compete covenants. The court held that remand is thus proper to allow the district court to make particularized findings regarding irreparable harm; specifically, the likelihood of misuse of DB’s information and the difficulty of quantifying damages should such misuse occur. View "Direct Biologics v. McQueen" on Justia Law
HONEY BUM, LLC V. FASHION NOVA, INC., ET AL
Honey Bum, a rival fast-fashion retailer, alleged that Fashion Nova organized a per se unlawful group boycott by threatening to stop purchasing from certain clothing vendors unless they, in turn, stopped selling to Honey Bum. The district court granted summary judgment on Honey Bum’s Sherman Act § 1 group boycott claim, concluding that Honey Bum failed to create a material dispute as to the existence of a horizontal agreement between the vendors themselves, to boycott Honey Bum. The district court also granted summary judgment on Honey Bum’s California business tort claims. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of Fashion Nova, Inc., et al. in an antitrust action brought by Honey Bum, LLC. The panel held that Sherman Act Section 1 prohibits contracts, combinations, and conspiracies that unreasonably restrain trade. In determining the reasonableness of a restraint, two different kinds of liability standards are considered. Some restraints are unreasonable per se because they always or almost always tend to restrict competition and decrease output. Most restraints, however, are subject to the so-called Rule of Reason, a multi-step, burden-shifting framework. The panel held that a group boycott is an agreement among multiple firms not to deal with another firm (the target). Some group boycotts are per se unlawful, while others are not. The panel affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on Honey Bum’s claim for tortious interference with prospective economic relations because that claim required a showing of independent unlawfulness. View "HONEY BUM, LLC V. FASHION NOVA, INC., 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
REXA, Inc. v. Chester
The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to Defendants on all claims asserted against them, including misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of an implied contractual obligation to assign patent rights but vacated the judgment awarding attorneys' fees, holding that a reduction in fees was warranted.REXA, Inc. sued Mark Chester and MEA, Inc. for misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of an implied contractual obligation to assign patent rights, alleging that Chester and MEA incorporated and disclosed confidential designs. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding that the district court (1) properly granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants; but (2) abused its discretion in awarding Chester and MEA approximately $2.357 million in attorneys' fees, which they requested as a sanction for REXA's litigation conduct, where the court did not make specific findings about each of REXA's objections to the fee petition. View "REXA, Inc. v. Chester" on Justia Law
In re: Rotavirus Vaccines Antitrust Litigation v.
Under "loyalty contracts," Physician Buying Groups (PBGs) members are entitled to discounts if they buy a large enough percentage of their vaccines from Merck. The loyalty contracts include an arbitration provision. Membership contracts between PBGs and medical practices give medical practices discounts on Merck vaccines for enrolling in PBGs. PBGs contract with both Merck and medical practices and are middlemen but PBGs never possess the vaccines. Medical practices buy their vaccines directly from Merck, receiving discounts for belonging to a PBG. The Pediatricians, members of PBGs that contracted with Merck, never signed contracts containing an arbitration clause.The Pediatricians filed federal suits alleging Merck’s vaccine bundling program was anticompetitive. Merck moved to compel arbitration. On remand, following discovery, the district court again denied Merck’s motion and granted the Pediatricians summary judgment, reasoning that the Pediatricians were not bound under an agency theory. The Third Circuit reversed. The PBG membership contract made the PBG a “non-exclusive agent to arrange for the purchase of goods and services,” and the PBG acted on this authority by executing the loyalty contract with Merck that included the arbitration clause. The Pediatricians simultaneously demonstrated intent to create an agency relationship and exercised control over the scope of the PBG’s agency by contract. View "In re: Rotavirus Vaccines Antitrust Litigation v." on Justia Law