Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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OJ Commerce and Naomi Home sued KidKraft and MidOcean. OJ Commerce and Naomi Home alleged that “KidKraft control[led] over 70% of the wooden play kitchen market in the continental United States.” They asserted that “KidKraft’s termination of its relationship with OJ[] [Commerce] had no legitimate business justification or procompetitive benefit” and violated section two of the Sherman Act. They asserted that, alternatively, the termination was a form of attempted monopolization, a separate violation of section two.  The district court entered summary judgment in favor of KidKraft and MidOcean.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the summary judgment order. The court held that the district court correctly entered a summary judgment in favor of MidOcean and KidKraft on the section-one claim. The court reasoned that a company ordinarily cannot conspire with an entity it owns and controls and with which it does not compete. Here, MidOcean owns nothing other than its interest in KidKraft that sells toys of any type. And as noncompetitors, MidOcean and KidKraft are incapable of conspiring for purposes of section one because the evidence establishes that MidOcean has majority ownership of and controls KidKraft. It is undisputed that, during the relevant period, MidOcean owned approximately 57 percent of the membership interests in the company that wholly owns KidKraft.Further, the court held that the district court correctly entered a summary judgment against the section-two claim because OJ Commerce and Naomi Home failed to present substantial evidence to support a viable theory of monopolization. View "OJ Commerce, LLC, et al. v. KidKraft, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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The FTC filed suit under 15 U.S.C. 53(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) against appellants, alleging that they had engaged in unfair or deceptive business practices in violation of 15 U.S.C. 45(a) under the collective name of "On Point." On appeal, On Point challenges the district court's preliminary injunction.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed parts of the preliminary injunction enjoining appellants from misrepresenting their services and releasing consumer information. However, while this appeal was pending, the Supreme Court held in AMG Capital Management that section 53(b) does not permit an award of equitable monetary relief such as restitution or disgorgement, leaving the asset freeze and receivership aspects of the preliminary injunction unsupported by law. Therefore, the court vacated parts of the preliminary injunction subjecting the remaining appellants at issue to the asset freeze and receivership to the extent the district court has not already provided relief. View "Federal Trade Commission v. On Point Capital Partners LLC" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against ACS and in favor of its competing distributor, White Cap, on ACS's Sherman Antitrust Act and Georgia state law claims. ACS argues that summary judgment was erroneously granted because the evidence demonstrates that White Cap agreed with Meadow Burke to have Meadow Burke stop supplying ACS projects in Florida.The court held that the evidence is at least equally consistent with Meadow Burke having made an independent decision to terminate ACS as it is with an inference of concerted action. Furthermore, the evidence is at least equally consistent with White Cap having made an independent decision to continue distributing the Meadow Burke product as it is with it having engaged in concerted action. Therefore, the court cannot conclude that White Cap acted in a manner rising to the level of anticompetitive conduct necessary for a claim under section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The court also held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on ACS's monopolization and attempted monopolization claims pursuant to section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Finally, the court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment on the tortious interference claim. View "American Contractors Supply, LLC v. HD Supply Construction Supply, Ltd." on Justia Law

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SmileDirect filed suit against the Georgia Board of Dentistry, including the Board’s members in their individual capacities, alleging inter alia, antitrust, Equal Protection, and Due Process violations related to the amendment of Ga. Bd. of Dentistry R. 150-9-.02. On appeal, the Board members challenged the denial of their motion to dismiss the complaint with respect to the alleged antitrust violations.After determining that it does have appellate jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that, based on the facts alleged in SmileDirect's complaint, the Board members are not entitled to state-action immunity under Parker v. Brown, 317 U.S. 341 (1943), at this point in the litigation, and the district court properly denied their motion to dismiss. In this case, the Board members have failed to satisfy the Midcal test by failing to meet the "active supervision" prong of the test and both prongs are necessary to satisfy the test. Furthermore, the court rejected the Board members' argument that ipso facto state-action immunity is available merely because of the Governor's power and duty, and without regard to his actual exercise thereof. The court explained that the Board members have established no more than the mere potential for active supervision on the part of the Governor, and thus they have fallen far short of establishing that the amended rule was "in reality" the action of the Governor. View "SmileDirectClub, LLC v. Battle" on Justia Law

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Automotive body shops filed suit against major automobile insurance companies, alleging claims for relief under the Sherman Act and state law based on the insurance companies' alleged anticompetive practices.The Eleventh Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the merits of the Indiana and Utah appeals because the orders dismissing the first amended complaints became final judgments under Hertz Corporation v. Alamo Rent-ACar, Incorporated, 16 F.3d 1126 (11th Cir. 1994), when the deadline to amend expired. However, the court held that it had jurisdiction to review the order dismissing the Mississippi body shops’ antitrust claims. The court also held that the district court correctly dismissed the antitrust claims; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Mississippi body shops' motion to reconsider its dismissal of their antitrust claims; and the district court correctly dismissed most of the Mississippi body shops' claims under state law. Accordingly, the court vacated in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Automotive Alignment & Body Service, Inc. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Body Shops filed suit alleging that defendant insurance companies colluded to lower repair prices by improperly pressuring the shops to lower prices and by threatening to boycott those who did not comply. The Body Shops claimed a per se price-fixing conspiracy and a per se conspiracy to boycott, as well as state law claims.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of all of the Body Shop's federal antitrust and state law claims except the tortious interference claims. Although the court held that the unjust enrichment and quantum meruit claims of the Body Shops were wholly without merit, the court vacated the district court's judgment as to the tortious interference claims because the court was not persuaded by the district court's grounds for concluding that the allegations of tortious interference in each of these five cases violated the group pleading doctrine, i.e., failed to give fair notice to each defendant of the claim being made against it. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Quality Auto Painting Center of Roselle, Inc. v. State Farm Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of five complaints filed by automobile body shops, asserting federal antitrust and state tort claims against insurance companies. The court held that the shops pleaded enough facts to plausibly support their federal antitrust and state tort claims. In this case, the body shops argued that the insurance companies engaged in two lines of tactics in pursuit of a single goal: to depress the shops' rates for automobile repair. The body shops have supplied enough allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of an illegal agreement; the body shops have consistently alleged the existence of parallel conduct and of plus factors allowing a plausible inference of an illegal agreement; and the allegations have sufficiently established the body shops' state tort claims of unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, and tortious interference. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Quality Auto Painting Center of Roselle, Inc. v. State Farm Indemnity Co." on Justia Law