Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
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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

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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

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In 2004, five structural steel contractors filed a complaint against a local union - Labor Union No. 7 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers - alleging labor law violations under the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), antitrust law violations under the Sherman Act, and other violations under state law. The First Circuit reviewed the matter and found elements pertaining to the federal claims undeveloped. Therefore, the Court remanded for further proceedings. After a trial, the case once again reached the First Circuit, with both parties appealing and cross-appealing various aspects of the final judgment. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decisions upholding the LMRA jury verdict and award of damages for Plaintiffs D.F.M. Industries, Inc. and Ajax Construction Company, Inc. and granting summary judgment for Defendant on the antitrust claims, holding that the trial court did not err in its judgment. View "Am. Steel Erectors, Inc. v. Local Union No. 7" on Justia Law

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Appellants in this case were Richtek Technology Corporation, a Taiwan corporation, and Richtek USA, Inc., its California subsidiary. Respondents were James Chang, H.P. Huang and J.C. Chen, Taiwan residents and former employees of Richtek Technology, and uPI Semiconductor Corporation, a California company they formed. Appellants sued Respondents for trade secret misappropriation. uPI, Chang and Huang filed a demurrer on the ground that Appellants’ claims were time-barred under Taiwan’s statute of limitations for trade secret misappropriation claims. Huang, Chang and Chen also filed a motion to dismiss based on a forum selection clause in their employment agreements mandating a Taiwanese forum for Richtek Technology’s trade secret claims. The trial court sustained the demurrer and granted Chen’s motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals (1) reversed the order sustaining the demurrer to the complaint, holding that the trial court erred by using previous complaints filed in Taiwan to conclude that Appellants had knowledge of the misappropriation at issue in this lawsuit and the identity of the parties liable for damages; and (2) affirmed the order granting Chen’s motion to dismiss, holding that the forum selection clause in the employment agreement between Chen and Richtek Technology was mandatory. View "Richtek USA v. uPI Semiconductor Corp." on Justia Law

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Defendant worked for Plaintiff, a technology company, as an engineer. During and after her employment with Plaintiff, Defendant forwarded confidential emails to her private Gmail account, copied a confidential business plan to a thumb drive, and placed protected information on the record in an administrative proceeding. Plaintiff filed suit, alleging that Defendant had violated a non-disclosure agreement and misappropriated company trade secrets. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant, determining that Plaintiff had failed to make an adequate showing of harm. The court further entered Utah R. Civ. P. 11 sanctions against Plaintiff and awarded attorney fees to Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence of threatened harm - or at least genuine issues of material fact concerning such harm - to defeat Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment; and (2) because Plaintiff prevailed on Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, Defendant could not be entitled to sanctions or fees. View "Innosys v. Mercer" on Justia Law

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In 2000, physicians and physician associations imitated a group of class actions against various providers of health plans, which were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation. This appeal involves this complex, twelve-year-old multidistrict litigation, a related multidistrict litigation pending in another federal district, and whether the district court reasonably interpreted the Settlement Agreement in the first action. The court affirmed the Injunction as to plaintiffs' Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961, and antitrust claims and as to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., claims based on the denial or underpayment of benefits following the Settlement Agreement's Effective Date. On remand, the district court will need to determine which of plaintiffs' ERISA claims fall on the permissible side of the line, and reconsider the assessment of sanctions. View "Medical Assoc. of GA, et al. v. Wellpoint, Inc." on Justia Law

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Raymond Gurrobat, individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated persons, filed an action against HTH Corporation and Pacific Beach Corporation (collectively, Defendants), asserting claims of unlawful withholding of wages and unfair methods of competition (UMOC) for Defendants’ alleged failure to distribute the entirety of the service charges they received from customers to service employees and for failing to disclose to customers their practice of retaining a portion of those charges. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Gurrabat on the unlawful withholding of wages claim but in favor of Defendants on the UMOC claim. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the circuit court’s order granting Gurrobat’s motion for class certification; (2) affirmed in large part the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment on Gurrobat’s claims for unpaid wages but vacated the portion of the order granting Gurrobat’s motion for summary judgment as to damages that imposed joint and several liability on Defendants; and (3) vacated the circuit court’s order granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on Gurrobat’s UMOC claim, as Gurrobat alleged sufficient facts to survive summary judgment on this claim. Remanded. View "Gurrobat v. HTH Corp." on Justia Law

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This case concerned the 2011 NFL lockout. Active NFL players filed a class action suit (Brady suit) against the NFL, alleging violations of the federal antitrust laws and other claims. Retired NFL players also filed suit against the NFL and its teams, alleging antitrust violations (Eller I suit). After both actions were consolidated, the Brady suit was settled, the players re-designated the NFLPA as their collective bargaining agent, the NFL and NFLPA signed a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) incorporating the settlement terms, the Brady plaintiffs dismissed their action, the lockout ended, and the 2011 NFL season commenced. Carl Eller and other retired NFL players (plaintiffs) then filed this class action (Eller II) against the NFLPA and others. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss and plaintiffs appealed, alleging claims for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage under Minnesota law. The court concluded that no reasonable jury could find that plaintiffs had a reasonable expectation of a prospective separate contractual relation with the NFL that would provide more than the increased benefits provided in the 2011 CBA. Even if plaintiffs alleged a reasonable expectation of prospective contractual relations or economic advantage with the NFL, plaintiffs failed to allege facts proving that defendants improperly or wrongfully interfered with these advantageous prospects. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Eller, et al. v. NFL Players Assoc., et al." on Justia Law

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The CEO and sole shareholder of Zee decided to expand his chemical sales business into the water treatment industry and hired employees who were currently working or had previously worked in the industry. Four employees came from GE and were bound by non-compete agreements. GE sued Zee and its former employees in North Carolina state court for breach of contract, tortious interference with contract, and unfair trade practices. The state court found the agreements enforceable and held Zee and the employees jointly and severally liable for $288,297.00 in compensatory damages as a result of unfair and deceptive trade practices and for $5,769,903.10 in attorney fees, $864,891.00 in punitive damages, and $257,931.44 in costs. GE discovered that Zee had tied up virtually all of its assets in a credit facility agreement with BMO Harris Bank before entry of judgment; registered the judgment in Illinois, Harris’s principal place of business; and served Harris with a citation to discover Zee’s assets. GE objected to removal to federal court, but the district court dismissed GE’s case entirely. The Seventh Circuit vacated, finding that GE raised a timely and sound objection to removal under the forum-defendant rule, and the district court should have remanded the case. View "GE Betz, Inc. v. Zee Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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The City of New York sued defendants under federal and New York State antitrust laws, seeking to prevent the companies from merging. The city appealed from a judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to defendants and dismissing the city's complaint without leave to amend. The court agreed with the district court that the alleged relevant market definition, as the "low-cost municipal health benefits market[,]" was legally deficient and concluded that the district court's denial of leave to amend was not an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgement of the district court. View "City of New York v. Group Health Inc., et al." on Justia Law