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United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
September 13, 2004, Submitted ; March 7, 2005, Filed
[*565] BRIGHT, Circuit Judge.
Plaintiffs/Appellants brought this case as a putative class action under sections four and fifteen of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 15 & 16, for treble the damages caused by an alleged price-fixing conspiracy in violation of section one of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1. Appellants appeal from the district court's 1 denial of their motion to certify two classes. We affirm.
I. Appellants' Allegations and Procedural History
Appellants allege as follows: Monsanto wished to extract the monopoly profits it would have earned from certain genes it had patented, [**4] which could be used to develop genetically modified corn and soybean seeds (GM seeds). 2 But Monsanto had surrendered its monopoly over the genes by giving broad licenses to Pioneer and Syngenta. Monsanto therefore secured the agreement of Pioneer and Syngenta to inflate the prices of their own GM corn and soybean seeds, to support Monsanto's technology fees (for inclusion of the patented genes in seeds Monsanto sold) rather than to undercut the fees through normal price competition. Monsanto propped up its technology fee also by securing the agreement of Appellee Aventis to limit its production of LibertyLink soybean seeds, which competed with the GM soybean seed sold by Monsanto, Pioneer, and Syngenta. The parties to the conspiracy performed their obligations under their illegal agreement to an extent sufficient to injure all members of the proposed classes.
[**5] Appellants moved for certification of two classes. The first class consisted of farmers [*566] (other than as distributors) who, from 1996 to present, purchased Roundup Ready soybean seeds or the right to grow the seeds directly from one of the defendants. The second class consisted of farmers (other than as distributors) who, from 1996 to present, purchased Yieldgard corn seeds or the right to grow the seeds directly from one of the defendants. Appellants sought certification of these classes under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3), which ] provides for class certification if "questions of law or fact common to the members of the class predominate over any questions affecting only individual members" and "a class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy."
] To recover damages under section four of the Clayton Act, plaintiffs must prove defendants violated the antitrust laws and that plaintiffs suffered some resulting injury, and plaintiffs must estimate the measure of damages. Amerinet, Inc. v. Xerox Corp., 972 F.2d 1483, 1490 (8th Cir. 1992). Appellants allege a price-fixing conspiracy [**6] in violation of section one of the Sherman Act. For a class to be certified, plaintiffs need to demonstrate that common issues prevail as to the existence of a conspiracy and the fact of injury. See Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Visa USA Inc. (In re Visa Check/MasterMoney Antitrust Litig.), 280 F.3d 124, 135-40 (2d Cir. 2001). The district court found that plaintiffs satisfied the Rule 23(a) prerequisites to a class action, but that common questions do not predominate over individual questions. The district court held that neither the existence of a conspiracy to fix prices, nor the existence of some resultant harm constitute questions common to the class.
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400 F.3d 562 *; 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 3727 **; 2005-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) P74,715
Randy Blades, Collin Cain, Fredrick L. Samples, Mark A. Jent, Roger Rivest, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, Bob McIntosh, C-K Farms, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Monsanto Company, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., Syngenta Seeds, Inc., Defendants-Appellees, Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., Defendant, Aventis Crop Science USA Holding, Inc., Defendant-Appellee.
Subsequent History: Rehearing denied by Blades v. Monsanto Co., 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 7040 (8th Cir. Mo., Apr. 22, 2005)
Related proceeding at McIntosh v. Monsanto Co., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7608 (E.D. Mo., Feb. 28, 2006)
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
seeds, premiums, hybrids, list price, corn, prices, class certification, conspiracy, farmers, district court, class-wide, soybean, class member, predominate, damages, proposed class, price-fixing, antitrust, inflation, individualized, technology, licenses, non-GM, common question, class action, corresponding, Appellants', patented, certify, varied
Business & Corporate Compliance, Governments, Agriculture & Food, Distribution, Processing & Storage, Civil Procedure, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Certification of Classes, Prerequisites for Class Action, General Overview, Predominance, Criminal Law & Procedure, Inchoate Crimes, Conspiracy, Elements, Immigration Law, Admission of Immigrants & Nonimmigrants, Visa Eligibility & Issuance, Issuance of Visas, Antitrust & Trade Law, Clayton Act, Claims, Remedies, Damages, Regulated Practices, Price Fixing & Restraints of Trade, Private Actions, Sherman Act, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Appellate Review, Clearly Erroneous Review, De Novo Review, Judicial Discretion, Discovery & Disclosure, Governments, Legislation, Overbreadth