Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
Ethypharm SA France v. Abbott Labs
Ethypharm, a French corporation, contracted with Reliant, an American company. Ethypharm would manufacture and provide its drug (Antara®); Reliant would obtain approval and market the drug. Reliant sought FDA approval under 21 U.S.C. 505(b)(2), using data from an approved, fenofibrate drug, TriCor®, developed by Fournier and distributed in the U.S. by Abbott. Antara received approval. Reliant began marketing and sought a declaration of non-infringement or unenforceability of Abbott’s patents. Abbott counterclaimed. In 2006, the companies settled: Abbott and Fournier would license the patents to Reliant and Reliant would pay royaltys. The agreement prohibited Reliant from assigning its rights to or partnering with specific companies. Reliant sold its rights to Oscient, which was not a prohibited purchaser. Losing market share to generic fenofibrate, Oscient discontinued promotion of Antara and filed for bankruptcy. Ethypharm sued Abbott, alleging antitrust and sham litigation under 15 U.S.C. 1, asserting that the settlement agreement was designed to ensure that Antara would be marketed by a company with “limited resources and a relatively small sales force,” so that it could not effectively compete with TriCor and that the royalty payment weakened Antara’s profitability. The district court granted Abbott summary judgment. The Third Circuit vacated, holding that Ethypharm lacked standing under the Sherman Act. View "Ethypharm SA France v. Abbott Labs" on Justia Law
In Re: Pharmacy Benefit Mgrs. Antitrust Litig.
AdvancePCS is a prescription benefits manager for plans sponsored by employers, unions, and others and is retained to achieve savings by negotiating discounts from drug manufacturers, providing mail order service, contracting with retail pharmacies, and electronic processing and paying of claims. Plaintiffs are retail pharmacies that entered into agreements with AdvancePCS that include an agreed reimbursement rate and an arbitration clause. In 2003, plaintiffs filed suit, asserting that AdvancePCS engaged in an unlawful conspiracy with plan sponsors to restrain competition in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1; that AdvancePCS used the economic power of its sponsors to reduce the contractual amount it pays below levels prevailing in a competitive marketplace; and that the agreements impose other limitations. For almost a year, AdvancePCS litigated without mentioning arbitration. After denial of a motion to dismiss and reconsideration, AdvancePCS filed an answer with affirmative defenses, then sought to compel arbitration. The court granted the motion. Plaintiffs did not initiate arbitration, but sought dismiss pending appeal. A different judge vacated the order compelling arbitration. The Third Circuit remanded with directions to reinstate the order compelling arbitration. On remand, a third judge granted dismissal. The Third Circuit ruled in favor of plaintiffs, holding that AdvancePCS waived its right to arbitrate. View "In Re: Pharmacy Benefit Mgrs. Antitrust Litig." on Justia Law
ZF Meritor LLC v. Eaton Corp.
There are four direct purchasers of heavy duty truck transmissions in North America. Truck buyers dealing with those direct purchasers can select many of the components for their trucks, including transmissions, from catalogues called data books. Data book positioning is significant to likelihood that a buyer will choose a particular component. Eaton is a monopolist in the market for such transmissions. ZF-Meritor entered the market in 1989; otherwise no significant external supplier has entered the market in 20 years. ZF-Meritor sued Eaton, alleging anticompetitive practices embodied in long-term agreements between Eaton and every direct purchaser, including provisions relating to data books. A jury found Sherman Act and Clayton Act violations. The district court reasoned that notwithstanding Eaton‘s above-cost prices, there was sufficient evidence to establish long-term de facto exclusive dealing arrangements, which foreclosed a substantial share of the market and harmed competition. The Third Circuit affirmed. The claims are not subject to the price-cost test, but must be analyzed as de facto exclusive dealing claims under the rule of reason. There was sufficient evidence that Eaton engaged in anticompetitive conduct and of resulting antitrust injury. The court vacated an injunction, finding that plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue injunctive relief. View "ZF Meritor LLC v. Eaton Corp." on Justia Law
In Re: K-Dur Antitrust Litigation
Schering held a patent on the controlled release coating applied to potassium chloride crystals for treatment of potassium deficiencies. Potential generic manufacturers filed an abbreviated application for approval (ANDA),Hatch-Waxman Act, 21 U.S.C. 301-399, asserting that the Schering patent was invalid or would not be infringed by their new generic drugs. Schering’s subsequent infringement suits were resolved through agreements in which it paid the generic manufacturers to drop patent challenges and refrain from producing a generic drug for a specified period. Congress amended Hatch-Waxman to require pharmaceutical companies who enter into such settlements to file for antitrust review. The FTC filed an antitrust action with respect to Schering’s settlements. Plaintiffs sued on behalf of a class of purchasers of the drug. The Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s certification of the class, but reversed its presumption that Schering’s patent was valid and gave Schering the right to exclude infringing products until the end of its term, including through reverse payment settlements. The court directed use of a “quick look rule of reason analysis” based on economic realities of the settlement rather than labels. The court must treat any payment from a patent holder to a patent challenger who agrees to delay entry into the market as prima facie evidence of unreasonable restraint of trade, rebuttable by showing that the payment was for a purpose other than delayed entry or offers some pro-competitive benefit. View "In Re: K-Dur Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law
McCray v. Fidelity Nat’l Title Ins. Co.
Title insurance purchasers, on behalf of themselves and similarly situated consumers, claimed that insurers collectively fixed title insurance rates in violation of the Sherman Act. Title insurers in Delaware are required to file their insurance rates with the state Department of Insurance, Del. Code tit. 18, 2504(a). Insurers may comply with the state’s rate filing requirements through a licensed rating organization. Defendants, title insurers, are members of and file their rates through the Delaware Title Insurance Rating Bureau, which is licensed by the DOI; the statutory scheme authorizes cooperative action. The district court dismissed, holding that the complaint is barred by the filed-rate doctrine (which precludes antitrust suits based on rates currently filed with federal or state agencies), lack of standing, and federal antitrust liability exemptions. The Third Circuit affirmed. View "McCray v. Fidelity Nat'l Title Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Swick v. Censtar Title Ins. Co.
Title insurance purchasers, on behalf of themselves and similarly situated consumers, claimed that insurers collectively fixed title insurance rates in violation of the Sherman Act and the New Jersey Antitrust Act. In New Jersey, the Department of Banking and Insurance approves and regulates title insurance rates, N.J. Stat. Ann. 17:1C-19(a)(1). Insurers may collectively file rates for approval through a licensed rating organization, thereby authorizing cooperative action. The district court dismissed, holding that the complaint is barred by the filed-rate doctrine (which precludes antitrust suits based on rates currently filed with federal or state agencies), lack of standing, and federal and state antitrust liability exemptions. The Third Circuit affirmed. View "Swick v. Censtar Title Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Race Tires Am., Inc.l v. Hoosier Racing Tire Corp.
In a Sherman Act case, the district court held that more than $365,000 in charges imposed by the electronic discovery vendors, covering hard drive imaging, data processing, keyword searching, and file format conversion, were taxable under FRCP 54(d), without differentiating between those charges that constitute "fees for exemplification," and charges that constitute "costs of making copies," 28 U.S.C. 1920(4). The Third Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part, noting conflicting decisions by other courts. None of activities at issue can be regarded as exemplification of materials; only scanning and file format conversion can be considered to be making copies, an activity that amounts to approximately $30,000 of electronic discovery charges taxed in the case. View "Race Tires Am., Inc.l v. Hoosier Racing Tire Corp." on Justia Law
Sullivan v. DB Inv., Inc.
Plaintiffs alleged that De Beers coordinated worldwide sales of diamonds by executing agreements with competitors, setting production limits, restricting resale within regions, and directing marketing, and was able to control quantity and prices by regimenting sales to preferred wholesalers. Plaintiffs claimed violations of antitrust, consumer protection, and unjust enrichment laws, and unfair business practices and false advertising. De Beers initially refused to appear, asserting lack of personal jurisdiction, but entered into a settlement with indirect purchasers that included a stipulated injunction. De Beers agreed to jurisdiction for the purpose of fulfilling terms of the settlement and enforcement of the injunction. The district court entered an order, approving the settlement and certifying a class of Indirect Purchasers in order to distribute the settlement fund and enforce the injunction. De Beers then entered into an agreement with direct purchasers that paralleled the Indirect Purchaser Settlement. The Third Circuit remanded the certification of two nationwide settlement classes as inconsistent with the predominance inquiry mandated by FRCP 23(b)(3), but, on rehearing, vacated its order. The court then affirmed the class certifications, rejecting a claim that the court was required to ensure that each class member possesses a colorable legal claim. The settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate. View "Sullivan v. DB Inv., Inc." on Justia Law
Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc.
Factors purchase accounts receivable to assume garment manufacturers' risk with respect to amounts owed by retailer. A manufacturer typically cannot make sales to retailers for which factors decline to assume the risk. Factors determine the terms and conditions, including the discount rate at which they purchase receivables, payment terms required of retailers, and whether purchases by particular retailers will be financed. Plaintiff, a major discount clothing retailer had sub-par performance and declining sales for two years. Factors declined to extend credit, which caused increased costs and decreased profitability until plaintiff filed for bankruptcy. The trustee filed suit under the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, and New York law, alleging that factors engaged in "cartel-like behavior," unlawfully exchanged information, and entered into illegal agreements in secretive weekly meetings and telephone conversations to minimize their risks and cost of doing business, maintain and stabilize pricing structures for factoring services; and stabilize their respective market shares. The district court dismissed. The Third Circuit affirmed, finding no direct evidence of agreement between the factors or of parallel behavior. View "Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc." on Justia Law
Behrend v. Comcast Corp.
Comcast‘s share of programming distribution services in the Philadelphia Designated Market Area allegedly grew from 23.9 percent in 1998 to 69.5 percent in 2007. Customers alleged violations of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1 & 2, claiming that Comcast eliminated competition, raised entry barriers, maintained increased prices, and deprived subscribers of lower prices that would result from effective competition. Following a 2008 Third Circuit decision, the district court reconsidered its class certification with respect to Rule 23(b)'s predominance requirement. After taking evidence the court held that plaintiffs demonstrated that: questions of law and fact common to class members predominate; the relevant geographic market could be the Philadelphia Designated Market Area; the class could establish antitrust impact on the theory that clustering through swaps and acquisitions deterred overbuilder competition; plaintiffs' expert provided common evidence to measure damages; and the class could establish antitrust impact through common evidence. The court narrowed class-wide impact to a theory that Comcast engaged in anticompetitive clustering that deterred entry of overbuilders. The Third Circuit affirmed. Plaintiffs established by a preponderance of evidence that they would be able to prove through common evidence class-wide antitrust impact (higher cost on non-basic cable programming), and a common methodology to quantify damages on a class-wide basis. View "Behrend v. Comcast Corp." on Justia Law