Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in White Collar Crime
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David Efron and Efron Dorado SE (collectively, "Efron") appealed a civil contempt order entered by the district court for violating its preliminary injunction. This litigation began when the Federal Trade Commission and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection filed a complaint in the federal district court against Zurixx, LLC and related entities. The complaint alleged Zurixx marketed and sold deceptive real-estate investment products. The district court entered a stipulated preliminary injunction, enjoining Zurixx from continuing its business activities and freezing its assets wherever located. The injunction also directed any person or business with actual knowledge of the injunction to preserve any of Zurixx’s assets in its possession, and it prohibited any such person or business from transferring those assets. A week later, the receiver filed a copy of the complaint and injunction in federal court in Puerto Rico, where Zurixx leased office space from Efron. The office contained Zurixx’s computers, furniture, and other assets. The receiver also notified Efron of the receivership and gave him actual notice of the injunction. Although Efron at first allowed the receiver access to the office to recover computers and files, he later denied access to remove the remaining assets and initiated eviction proceedings against Zurixx in a Puerto Rico court. Given these events, the receiver moved the district court in Utah for an order holding Efron in contempt of court for violating the injunction. In response, Efron claimed the assets belonged to him under his lease agreement with Zurixx. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal determined the contempt order was a non-final decision. It therefore dismissed this appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "Federal Trade Commission, et al. v. Zurixx, et al." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of LBE's action alleging claims under the Sherman Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). LBE alleged that Barbri and law schools entered into agreements whereby Barbri donates money to the schools, bribes their administrators, and hires their faculty to teach bar review courses. LBE further alleged that, in exchange, the law school gives Barbri direct access to promote and sell its products on campus.The court adopted the district court's well-reasoned and thorough analysis of LBE's allegations and held that the district court properly dismissed the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a plausible claim of relief. The district court concluded that internal contradictions and conclusory assertions in the complaint did not plausibly support LBE's claim that Barbri and the law schools conspired to enable Barbri to gain a monopoly. View "LLM Bar Exam, LLC v. Barbri, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint alleging that Defendants fraudulently marketed and sold debt-related services, failed to provide those services, and retained money as upfront fees in violation of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a); the Telemarketing Sales Rule, 16 C.F.R. 310; and the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule, 12 C.F.R. 1015. The FTC also sought a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, and provided more than 1,000 pages of exhibits. Defendants sought to stay proceedings, asserting that a criminal investigation had been launched into their business activities, as evidenced by a raid conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that resulted in seizure of records they claim were necessary to defend against the FTC’s allegations. The district court denied the motion; the FTC and Defendants entered into a stipulated preliminary injunction. Defendants later renewed the motion for a stay, claiming that they were unable to access critical records. Without explanation, the district court denied the motion and later granted the FTC’s motion for summary judgment, ordering Defendants to jointly pay restitution in the amount of $5,706,135.48 to injured consumers. The Sixth circuit affirmed, finding clear evidence of the violations. View "Fed. Trade Comm'n v. E.M.A. Nationwide, Inc." on Justia Law

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Following published stories about an investigation of their business practices, principals of a waste-management company improved their chances of winning a bid for a contract to refurbish garbage carts for the City of Chicago by slashing their bid. They encouraged other companies to bid in hopes of being hired as a subcontractor if another company won the bid. Each bidder had to certify that it had not entered into any agreement with any other bidder or prospective bidder relating to the price, nor any agreement restraining free competition among bidders. The company won the bid, and after a Justice Department investigation for antitrust violations, the principals were convicted of mail and wire fraud. The Seventh Circuit reversed, reasoning that the purpose of "colluding" with other potential bidders had not been to prevent them from underbidding but to provide insurance against the bid being rejected based on the earlier investigation. There was no harm as a result of the company encouraging additional bidders. View "United States v. Fenzl" on Justia Law