Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action brought by consumers and purchasers of beer under section 7 of the Clayton Act, seeking to enjoin Anheuser-Busch from acquiring SAB. The DOJ required, as a condition of approving the transaction, that SAB divest entirely its domestic beer business. The panel held that plaintiffs failed to state a claim under section 7, because the divestiture left SAB without a presence in the U.S. beer market and thus plaintiffs did not and could not plausibly allege that Annheuser-Busch's acquisition of SAB would substantially lessen competition in that market. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the complaint with prejudice. View "DeHoog v. Anheuser-Busch" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action alleging that USATF and the Olympics Committee engaged in an anticompetitive conspiracy in violation of antitrust law when it imposed advertising restrictions during the Olympic Trials for track and field athletes. The panel held that the Olympics Committee and USATF were entitled to implied antitrust immunity on the basis that their advertising restrictions were integral to performance of their duties under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act. The panel noted that an injunction preventing enforcement of the advertisement regulation would open the floodgates to potential advertisers, some of which might enhance the Olympic brand and some of which might devalue the Olympic brand. View "Gold Medal LLC v. USA Track & Field" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for CES in a class action alleging that natural gas companies colluded to fix retail natural gas prices in Wisconsin. CES, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliant, asserted that it acted innocently and without knowledge of its parent company's price-fixing scheme. The panel held that Supreme Court precedent established that a parent and a wholly owned subsidiary always have a unity of purpose and thus act as a single enterprise whenever they engage in coordinated activity. Copperweld Corp. v. Indep. Tube Corp., 467 U.S. 752 (1984). In this case, plaintiffs raised a triable issue of CES's anticompetitive intent; plaintiffs' evidence was sufficient to raise a triable issue of whether CES knowingly acted to further the alleged price-fixing scheme; any knowledge of the alleged price-fixing scheme that CES's directors and officers acquired while concurrently acting as directors or officers of the other Reliant companies was imputable to CES as a matter of Wisconsin law; and plaintiffs submitted sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue under the Sherman Act – and Wisconsin Statute 133.03(1) – as to whether CES participated in coordinated activity in furtherance of the alleged inter-enterprise price-fixing conspiracy. View "Arandell Corp. v. CenterPoint Energy Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Professional golf caddies filed suit against the PGA Tour after it required them to wear bibs containing advertisements at professional golfing events. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of all claims with prejudice, holding that the caddies consented to wearing the bibs and that they did not do so under economic duress. Therefore, the caddies failed to state claims for breach of contract and quasi-contract relief, California state law publicity claims, a Lanham Act false endorsement claim, or a plausible economic duress claim. The panel also held that the caddies failed to allege plausibly that the Tour secured their consent through economic duress, and thus the district court properly dismissed the antitrust claims for failure to state a relevant market and the California unfair competition claims for failure to plead that any of the Tour's conduct was unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent. The panel remanded to allow the district court to reconsider whether to grant the caddies leave to amend their federal antitrust and California unfair competition claims. View "Hicks v. PGA Tour, Inc." on Justia Law

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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

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The en banc court affirmed the district court's denial of AT&T Mobility's motion to dismiss an action brought by the FTC alleging that AT&T's data-throttling plan was unfair and deceptive. After determining that the district court had federal question jurisdiction, the en banc court held that the Federal Trade Commission Act's, 15 U.S.C. 45(a)(1), (2), common-carrier exemption was activity-based, and therefore the phrase "common carriers subject to the Acts to regulate commerce" provided immunity from FTC regulation only to the extent that a common carrier was engaging in common carrier services. The en banc court also held that the FCC's order reclassifying mobile data service did not rob the FTC of its jurisdiction or authority over conduct occurring before the order. View "FTC V. AT&T Mobility, LLC" on Justia Law

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ILWU and PMA jointly filed suit against ICTSI under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. 185, asking it to order ICTSI to comply with recently issued Joint Committee decisions. ICTSI counterclaimed and alleged, among other things, that ILWU and PMA violated Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, 2, through their agreement to assign the disputed work to ILWU and their actions taken to enforce such agreement. The district court granted partial final judgment and dismissed ICTSI's antitrust counterclaim with prejudice. All other issues remained stayed in the district court pending the resolution of related NLRB proceedings. The Ninth Circuit affirmed and held that the district court did not err by entering partial final judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b); ICTSI had standing to bring its antitrust counterclaim; the section 301 suit was covered by Noerr-Pennington immunity; and the nonstatutory exemption shields the alleged Joint Activity of ILWU and PMA from antitrust scrutiny and ICTSI's counterclaim was properly dismissed. View "International Longshore & Warehouse Union v. ICTSI Oregon, Inc." on Justia Law

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Professional minor league baseball is exempt from federal antitrust law. In this case, minor league players filed suit alleging that the MLB's hiring and employment policies have violated federal antitrust laws by restraining horizontal competition between and among the MLB franchises and artificially and illegally depressing minor league salaries. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that, in light of Supreme Court precedent, the decisions of this court, and the Curt Flood Act of 1998, minor league baseball falls squarely within the nearly century-old business-of-baseball exemption from federal antitrust laws. View "Miranda v. Selig" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit joined the Fourth and Sixth Circuits in holding that the collateral-order doctrine does not allow an immediate appeal of an order denying a dismissal motion based on state-action immunity. In this case, SolarCity filed a federal antitrust suit against the Power District, alleging that the Power District had attempted to entrench its monopoly by setting prices that disfavored solar power providers. The district court denied Power District's motion to dismiss the complaint based on the state-action immunity doctrine. Accordingly, the panel dismissed the interlocutory appeal based on lack of jurisdiction. View "SolarCity Corp. v. Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District" on Justia Law