Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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Plaintiffs, retail grocers, filed putative class actions against two large full-line wholesale grocers, alleging that the wholesalers' contract to exchange retailer supply agreements constituted market allocation in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1. Plaintiffs formed the Midwest Class and the New England Class, each class having an Arbitration Subclass of retailers who had arbitration agreements with their current (post-swap) wholesaler. The district court dismissed the purported representatives of the Arbitration Subclasses and the court reversed. At that point, the district court had rejected the proposed Midwest and New England classes and granted defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court reversed, ordering the district court to consider a narrower Midwest class. On remand, Colella moved to intervene to join Village Market, the New England Arbitration Subclass representative, in seeking to certify a narrower New England class. The district court denied the motion and announced that it would not consider any new class of New England plaintiffs. The court concluded that it does not have discretion to hear Village Market's appeal under Rule 23(f). The court explained that an order that leaves class-action status unchanged from what was determined by a prior order was not an order granting or denying class action certification. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Colella's motion to intervene as time-barred. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Colella's Super Market, Inc. v. SuperValu, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, retail grocers, filed putative class actions against two large full-line wholesale grocers, alleging that the wholesalers' contract to exchange retailer supply agreements constituted market allocation in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1. Plaintiffs formed the Midwest Class and the New England Class, each class having an Arbitration Subclass of retailers who had arbitration agreements with their current (post-swap) wholesaler. Each Arbitration Subclass filed suit against only its previous wholesaler, with which it no longer had a current arbitration agreement. The district court dismissed the Arbitration Subclasses from the case. On remand, the district court rejected the wholesalers' alternate successors-in-interest theory and the wholesaler's third alternate theory that they could directly enforce their previous arbitration agreements because some of the conduct at issue occurred when the previous agreements were still in effect. The court concluded that the district court did not err by rejecting the successors-in-interest theory where the court was not aware of any authority supporting the proposition that a predecessor-in-interest bears a sufficiently close relationship to a successor-in-interest such that the predecessor-in-interest can compel arbitration under an agreement to which only the successor-in-interest is a signatory. The court rejected the direct enforcement argument, concluding that wholesalers may not directly enforce the arbitration agreements to which they are no longer signatories. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Millennium Operations v. SuperValu" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their claims for damages in their action against Ferrellgas and AmeriGas under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants acted in concert to reduce the amount of propane contained within pre-filled propane tanks while maintaining the same price per tank, and thus artificially increasing the price of the tanks. Here, plaintiffs allege that reduction in fill levels, and thus the effective price increase, occurred in 2008, almost immediately after defendants reached the unlawful agreement. Plaintiffs have not alleged any overt acts within the four year limitations period that were new and independent acts, uncontrolled by the initial agreement. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiffs' claims are time-barred and the court's conclusion reflects the objectives of Congress in encouraging timely lawsuits for the public good. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Larson v. Ferrellgas Partners" on Justia Law