Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
by
In 2019, Mallet learned that Bundy was its newest competitor in the sale of baking release agents, the lubricants that allow baked goods to readily separate from the containers in which they are made. Bundy was well-known for other commercial baking products when it launched a new subsidiary, Synova, to sell baking release agents. Synova hired two Mallet employees, both of whom had substantial access to Mallet’s proprietary information. That information from Mallet helped Synova rapidly develop, market, and sell release agents to Mallet’s customers.Mallet sued, asserting the misappropriation of its trade secrets. The district court issued a preliminary injunction. restraining Bundy, Synova, and those employees from competing with Mallet. The Third Circuit vacated and remanded for further consideration of what, if any, equitable relief is warranted and what sum Mallet should be required to post in a bond as “security … proper to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.” A preliminary injunction predicated on trade secret misappropriation must adequately identify the allegedly misappropriated trade secrets. If the district court decides that preliminary injunctive relief is warranted, the injunction must be sufficiently specific in its terms and narrowly tailored in its scope. View "Mallet & Co., Inc. v. Lacayo" on Justia Law

by
Five Peruvian shepherds who worked in the Western United States pursuant to H-2A agricultural visas brought antitrust claims, on behalf of themselves and similarly situated classes of shepherds, against several sheep ranchers (the “Rancher Defendants”), two associations (the “Association Defendants”), and Dennis Richins (referred to collectively as the “Defendants”). The Shepherds alleged the Defendants “conspired and agreed to fix wages offered and paid to shepherds at the minimum DOL wage floor.” The Shepherds also brought class action RICO claims against Richins and the Association Defendants. The RICO claims focused on allegedly false assurances made by the Association Defendants to the federal government that H-2A shepherds were being properly reimbursed for various expenses. The district court dismissed as to both claims, finding the complaint did not plausibly allege an agreement to fix wages, and did not allege the existence of enterprises distinct from the persons alleged to have engaged in those enterprises. The trial court denied the Shepherds' request to amend their complaint. On appeal, the Shepherds argued there were valid antitrust and RICO claims, and that the district court abused its discretion in denying their motion to amend their complaint. The Tenth Circuit concluded the district court erred in dismissing the RICO claim naming Richins as a defendant. But in all other regards, the district court was affirmed. View "Llacua v. Western Range Association" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff-Appellant DTC Energy Group, Inc., sued two of its former employees, Adam Hirschfeld and Joseph Galban, as well as one of its industry competitors, Ally Consulting, LLC, for using DTC’s trade secrets to divert business from DTC to Ally. DTC moved for a preliminary injunction based on its claims for breach of contract, breach of the duty of loyalty, misappropriation of trade secrets, and unfair competition. The district court denied the motion, finding DTC had shown a probability of irreparable harm from Hirschfeld’s ongoing solicitation of DTC clients, but that DTC could not show the ongoing solicitation violated Hirschfeld’s employment agreement. After review, the Tenth Circuit determined the district court did not abuse its discretion when denying DTC's motion for a preliminary injunction, and affirmed. View "DTC Energy Group v. Hirschfeld" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging Ordinance 124968, which permits independent-contractor drivers, represented by an entity denominated an "exclusive driver representative," and driver coordinators to agree on the "nature and amount of payments to be made by, or withheld from, the driver coordinator to or by the drivers." The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the Chamber's federal antitrust claims because the ordinance sanctions price-fixing of ride-referral service fees by private cartels of independent-contractor drivers. The panel held that the State-action immunity doctrine did not exempt the ordinance from preemption by the Sherman Act because the State of Washington had not clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed a state policy authorizing private parties to price-fix the fees that for-hire drivers pay to companies like Uber or Lyft in exchange for ride-referral services. Furthermore, the active-supervision requirement for state-action immunity applied, and was not met. The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Chamber's National Labor Relations Act preemption claims. View "U.S. Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Seattle" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s partial denial of Plaintiffs’ partial denial of their request for preliminary injunctive relief against Defendant, their former agent, holding that the circuit court did not err by enjoining Defendant only from soliciting business from Plaintiffs’ existing customers without also enjoining Defendant from selling to those customers.Plaintiffs, Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. and Farm Bureau Property and Casualty Insurance Co., argued in their complaint that Defendant, after leaving Farm Bureau, breached the agency contracts he entered into with Farm Bureau by selling insurance policies to clients to whom he had previously sold Farm Bureau policies. In partially denying Plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief, the circuit court concluded that portions of the agency contracts that prohibited Defendant from selling to Farm Bureau’s existing customers was an invalid restraint on trade under S.D. Codified Laws chapter 53-9. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain meaning of section 53-9-12 supported the circuit court’s decision to adhere to that statute’s language. View "Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. v. Dolly" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s partial denial of Plaintiffs’ partial denial of their request for preliminary injunctive relief against Defendant, their former agent, holding that the circuit court did not err by enjoining Defendant only from soliciting business from Plaintiffs’ existing customers without also enjoining Defendant from selling to those customers.Plaintiffs, Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. and Farm Bureau Property and Casualty Insurance Co., argued in their complaint that Defendant, after leaving Farm Bureau, breached the agency contracts he entered into with Farm Bureau by selling insurance policies to clients to whom he had previously sold Farm Bureau policies. In partially denying Plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief, the circuit court concluded that portions of the agency contracts that prohibited Defendant from selling to Farm Bureau’s existing customers was an invalid restraint on trade under S.D. Codified Laws chapter 53-9. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the plain meaning of section 53-9-12 supported the circuit court’s decision to adhere to that statute’s language. View "Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. v. Dolly" on Justia Law

by
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq., does not preempt unfair competition and consumer protection claims based on workplace safety and health violations when, as in California, there is a state plan approved by the federal Secretary of Labor.The Division of Occupational Safety and Health charged Solus Industrial Innovations, LLC with five violations of state occupational safety and health regulations. The District Attorney of Orange County subsequently filed this action for civil penalties under the state’s unfair competition law (UCL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17200, and fair advertising law (FAL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17500. The court of appeal concluded that the federal OSH Act preempted the district attorney’s UCL and FAL claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no implied or express preemption of the district attorney’s UCL and FAL claims. View "Solus Industrial Innovations, LLC v. Superior Court of Orange County" on Justia Law

by
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq., does not preempt unfair competition and consumer protection claims based on workplace safety and health violations when, as in California, there is a state plan approved by the federal Secretary of Labor.The Division of Occupational Safety and Health charged Solus Industrial Innovations, LLC with five violations of state occupational safety and health regulations. The District Attorney of Orange County subsequently filed this action for civil penalties under the state’s unfair competition law (UCL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17200, and fair advertising law (FAL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17500. The court of appeal concluded that the federal OSH Act preempted the district attorney’s UCL and FAL claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no implied or express preemption of the district attorney’s UCL and FAL claims. View "Solus Industrial Innovations, LLC v. Superior Court of Orange County" on Justia Law

by
This case arose out of a dispute over subcontracting clauses in collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) between the Carpenters' Union and various construction companies and construction managers. The clauses effectively barred subcontracting of construction work with non-Carpenter affiliates. Ironworkers alleged that the Carpenters have used these subcontracting clauses to expand the scope of work assigned to the Carpenters Union to include work traditionally assigned to the Ironworkers. The district court granted summary judgment to the Carpenters. The Second Circuit held that the Carpenters have met the requirements of the construction industry proviso of Section 8(e) of the National Labor Relations Act, but that, on this record, there were factual disputes that precluded a decision on whether the conduct fell within the non‐statutory exemption to antitrust liability. The court explained, to demonstrate that the disputed subcontracting practices were sheltered by the non‐statutory exemption (and thus to defeat the Ironworkers' antitrust claim completely), the Carpenters must show that these practices furthered legitimate aims of collective bargaining, in a way that was not unduly restrictive of market competition. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment as to the Sherman Act claim; affirmed as to the unfair labor practices claim; and remanded. View "Conn. Ironworkers Employers Assoc. v. New England Regional Council of Carpenters" on Justia Law

by
American Dawn terminated plaintiff, a restaurant linen salesman, for participating in a fraudulent scheme against ALSCO, and plaintiff later found employment with American Dawn's competitor, Baltic. After plaintiff joined Baltic, a sales manager at American Dawn and a consultant for ALSCO allegedly conspired to freeze Baltic out of the restaurant linens market. Plaintiff lost his job as a result of the alleged conspiracy and subsequently filed suit, alleging violation of the antitrust laws, 15 U.S.C. 1 et seq. The court concluded that plaintiff lacked standing to challenge a conspiracy directed at his employer even if the conspiracy caused plaintiff's termination. The court further concluded that plaintiff failed to plead claims of racketeering, tortious interference, civil conspiracy, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Feldman v. American Dawn, Inc." on Justia Law