LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom
    Jury Awards Direct Purchasers $400M In Urethane Antitrust Case Against Dow

    KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A federal jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas on Feb. 20 awarded $400,049,039 to a class of direct purchasers of polyether polyol products (PPPs) on their price-fixing claims against Dow Chemical Co., the sole remaining defendant in multidistrict litigation against PPP manufacturers (In re: Urethane Antitrust Litigation $(Polyether Polyol Cases$), MDL No. 1616, Civil No. 2:04-md-01616-JWL, D. Kan.).

    Louisiana Judge: Pending Trademark Registrations Are Insufficient

    NEW ORLEANS - Although there is not yet any controlling authority regarding the sufficiency of a trademark application to obtain relief under 15 U.S. Code Section 1120, a Louisiana federal judge found Feb. 19 that an application alone cannot be the basis for viable claims under the statute (Southern Snow Manufacturing Co. Inc., et al. v. SnoWizard Holdings Inc., No. 06-9170, E.D. La.).

    2nd Circuit: Participant In Bid-Rigging Scheme Didn't Suffer Antitrust Injury

    NEW YORK - An admitted past participant in an alleged bid-rigging scheme lacks antitrust standing to seek damages from alleged co-conspirators for losses arising from the termination of its contract for refusing to continue to participate, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 14 (Gatt Communications, Inc. v. PMC Associates, L.L.C., et al., No. 11-1111, 2nd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 3186).

    Panel: Alleged California Conduct In Price-Fixing Case Permits State Claims

    SAN FRANCISCO - An alleged price-fixing conspiracy launched at least in part from California offices alleges sufficient contacts with the state for unfair competition law (UCL) and other state law claims, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Feb. 14 (AT&T Mobility LLC, et al. v. AU Optronics Corp., et al., No. 11-16188, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 3104).

    Supreme Court Denies Review Of 3rd Circuit's Application Of Filed-Rate Doctrine

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 19 declined a petition filed by Delaware homeowners seeking review of a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that their action seeking damages against title insurance companies for conspiring with one another to fix the price of title insurance in Delaware was barred by the filed-rate doctrine (Dawn A. McCray, et al. v. Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, et al., No. 12-527, U.S. Sup.).

    Nonsignatories Cannot Enforce Arbitration Agreements, 8th Circuit Holds

    ST. LOUIS - The doctrine of equitable estoppel does not bar retail grocers' antitrust lawsuit against wholesalers, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Feb. 13 in reversing a district court's judgment ordering the retailers to arbitrate their Sherman Act claims (In re: Wholesale Grocery Products Antitrust Litigation $(King Cole Foods, Inc., et al. v. SuperValue, Inc., et al.$), No. 11-3768, 8th Cir.; $(Blue Goose Super Market, Inc., et al. v. SuperValue, Inc., et al.$), No. 11-3773, 8th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 2949).

    U.S. Supreme Court: Hospital Merger Is Not Immune From Antitrust Scrutiny

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 19 ruled that the state-action doctrine does not immunize the merger between two Georgia hospitals from the Federal Trade Commission's challenge that the transaction substantially lessened competition in the market for hospital services or tended to create a monopoly because Georgia did not clearly articulate and affirmatively express a policy allowing hospital authorities to make acquisitions that substantially lessen competition (Federal Trade Commission v. Phoebe Putney Health System, Inc., et al., No. 11-1160, U.S. Sup.).

    Marijuana Collective, President Escape $2.63 Million In Competition Law Penalties

    LOS ANGELES - A trial judge improperly excluded a marijuana collective and its president's evidence regarding the business's losses, a California appeals court held Feb. 13 in reversing a pair of $1,315,000 unfair competition law (UCL) awards (The People ex rel. City of Dana Point v. Holistic Health, et al., No. G045453, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3).

    16 Banks Sued By Real Estate Mogul For Role In Portfolio Default

    NEW YORK - Real estate mogul Sheldon H. Solow sued 16 banks and certain of their subsidiaries in New York federal court on Feb. 13, arguing that the banks manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), causing a portfolio of more than $450 million in municipal bonds he purchased as collateral for LIBOR-denominated loans to default, costing him nearly $100 million in losses (7 West 57th Street Realty Co. LLC v. Citigroup Inc., et al., No. 13-0981, S.D. N.Y.).

    Judge: Competition Law Claim Against Coca-Cola For Juice Labeling Preempted

    LOS ANGELES - Pom Wonderful LLC's California unfair competition law (UCL) claim against Coca-Cola Co. for selling Pomegranate Blueberry Blend drink containing only 0.5 percent of those juices would impose standards different than those under federal law, a federal judge held Feb. 13 (Pom Wonderful LLC v. The Coca Cola Co., et al., No. 08-06237, C.D. Calif.).

    Claims By ATM Users, Operators Against Visa, MasterCard, Banks Over Fees Dismissed

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Independent operators of automated teller machines (ATMs) and several ATM users who alleged that Visa and MasterCard violated federal antitrust law by establishing and enforcing a uniform agreement among payment card-issuing banks in the United States to fix prices for ATM services failed to allege injury in fact or the existence of an agreement, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled Feb. 13 in dismissing the actions without prejudice (The National ATM Council, Inc., et al v. Visa Inc., et al., No. 11-1803, D. D.C.; Andrew Mackmin v. Visa Inc., et al., No. 11-1831, D. D.C.; Mary Stoumbos v. Vis Inc., et al., No. 11-1882, D. D.C.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19306).

    Judge: Chinese Company Must Defend Conspiracy Claims Related To Vitamin C Imports

    NEW YORK - In litigation alleging that Chinese corporations participated in an illegal cartel to fix prices and limit supply for exports of vitamin C to the United States, a defendant that claimed it was not a manufacturer is not entitled to summary judgment, a federal judge in New York ruled Feb. 8 (In re Vitamin C Antitrust Litigation $(Animal Science Products, Inc., et al. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., et al.$), No. 05-453, E.D. N.Y.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17919).

    9th Circuit Hears Competition Law Case Involving Ability To Deliver Benefits

    SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 12 heard oral arguments over whether allegedly insignificant amounts of active ingredients in juices advertised as conveying health benefits supported a California unfair competition law (UCL) claim (Mauricio Chavez, et al. v. Nestle USA Inc., No. 11-56066, 9th Cir.).

    Judge: Competition Law Claims Proceed Against Chase For Acquired Loan

    SAN FRANCISCO - A man may pursue his California unfair competition law (UCL) claims against Chase Home Finance LLC for conduct associated with a loan it acquired after Washington Mutual Bank went into receivership, an appeals court held Feb. 11 (Scott Call Jolley v. Chase Home Finance LLC, et al., No. A134019, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 2).

    Court Denies Rehearing; Reversal Of $203M Overdraft Suit Stands

    SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 8 denied rehearing and en banc rehearing of a ruling reversing a $203 million jury award involving a bank's debit card transaction processing and resulting overdrafts (Veronica Gutierrez, et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank NA, Nos. 10-16959, 10-17468, 10-17689, 9th Cir.).

    Judge Allows Claims Against Hair-Product Manufacturer

    LOS ANGELES - Hair-product consumers may proceed on their California unfair competition law (UCL) unlawful-prong claims but have not adequately alleged affirmative misrepresentations by the manufacturer, a federal judge held Feb. 6 (Jill Guido, et al. v. L'Oreal USA Inc., et al., Nos. 11-1067, 11-5465, C.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16915).

    Justice Department, 5th E-Book Publisher Reach Deal On Price-Fixing Claims

    NEW YORK - The U.S. Department of Justice and electronic book publishers Verlagsgruppe Georg Von Holtzbrinck GMBH and Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, doing business as Macmillan (collectively, Macmillan) on Feb. 8 filed a proposed settlement of the government's claims that Macmillan conspired with other e-book publishers and Apple Inc. to fix prices of digital books in violation of federal antitrust laws (United States of America v. Apple, Inc., et al., No. 12 Civ. 2826, S.D. N.Y.).

    Michigan Federal Judge Dismisses As Untimely Antitrust Claims Related To Merger

    DETROIT - Claims that a producer of oxidates monopolized the domestic market for oxidates following its purchase of a competitor's product line in violation of federal and state antitrust laws were untimely filed, a federal judge in Michigan ruled Feb. 5, concluding that price increases were not "independent" "acts that were unrelated to the merger" (Z Technologies Corporation v. The Lubrizol Corporation, No. 12-12206, E.D. Mich.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15125).

    Wisconsin Appeals Court Affirms $22M Drug-Pricing Judgment Against Pharmacia

    MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin appeals court panel on Feb. 6 upheld a $22 million judgment against Pharmacia Corp. for reporting inflated average wholesale prices (AWPs) that resulted in the state Medicaid program overpaying for prescription drugs (State of Wisconsin v. Abbott Laboratories, et al., No. 2010AP232-AC, Wis. App., Dist. IV).

    MDL Created For Fuel Economy Competition Law Claims Against Hyundai And Kia

    LOS ANGELES - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Feb. 5 consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California 12 cases challenging Kia Motors America Inc. and Hyundai Motor America's marketing, sale and advertising of fuel economy (In re: Hyundai and Kia Fuel Economy Litigation, No. JPMDL, MDL 2424, E.D. Pa.).

    Judge Finds Infringement By Former Owner Of Electrical Franchise

    KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A Kansas franchise owner infringed on a franchisor by continuing to use the company's marks after termination of his agreement, a Kansas federal judge said Feb. 6 (Mr. Electric Corp. v. Reiad Khalil and Alber Electric Co., Inc., No. 06-2414, D. Kansas; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15723).

    Dismissal Of Claims Over Lunch Meat Fat Affirmed By 11th Circuit

    ATLANTA - Dismissal of a putative class action alleging that companies misleadingly labeled the fat content of their lunch meats was affirmed Feb. 1 by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which said the trial court correctly found that the claims were preempted and failed to state a claim (Brad Kuenzig, et al. v. Hormel Foods Corp., et al., No. 12-11180, 11th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 22650).

    Canadian Potash Producers Settle Antitrust Claims For $97.5 Million

    CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Jan. 30 preliminarily approved an $80 million settlement between direct purchasers of potash and three Canadian potash producers and a $17.5 million dollar settlement between indirect purchasers and the producers on the purchasers' class action allegations that the defendants engaged in a global price-fixing conspiracy in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act (In re: Potash Antitrust Litigation II, MDL No. 1996, No. 08-cv-6910, N.D. Ill.).

    9th Circuit: Automaker Not A Party To Dealership-Buyer Arbitration Agreements

    PASADENA, Calif. - An automaker may not compel arbitration of California unfair competition law (UCL) claims based on agreements involving consumers and the dealerships where they purchased their vehicles, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Jan. 30 (Jessica Kramer, et al. v. Toyota Motor Corp., et al., No. 12-55050, 9th Cir.).

    Claims Relating To Refusal To License Patents Fail, California Federal Judge Rules

    OAKLAND, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Jan. 24 dismissed without prejudice an alleged patent troll's antitrust claims alleging that manufacturers of devices that use the Android operating system and an anti-troll company engaged in a group boycott of the plaintiffs' technology licenses (Cascades Computer Innovation LLC v. RPX Corporation, et al., No. 12-CV-01143, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10526).