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D.R. Ward Constr. Co. v. Rohm & Haas Co.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

May 30, 2006, Decided ; May 31, 2006, Filed

MDL Docket No. 1684, Case No. 2:05-cv-4157-LDD

Opinion

 [*490] MEMORANDUM OPINION

J. Davis

Presently before the Court are defendants' joint motion to dismiss the second amended indirect purchaser complaint (Doc. No. 16), plaintiffs' brief in opposition (Doc. No. 28), and defendants' response thereto (Doc. No. 33). For the following reasons, this Court grants defendants' motion in part and denies defendants' motion in part.

I. Factual and Procedural History

This action was commenced by complaint on August 4, 2005. (Doc. No. 1).  [*491]  On March 1, 2006, plaintiffs D.R. Ward Construction, Anna C. Furney, and David Pearman ("plaintiffs"), indirect purchasers of products containing plastics additives, filed a second amended complaint on behalf of an alleged class of Arizona, Tennessee, and Vermont entities that indirectly purchased plastics additives [**3]  from defendants, various manufacturers and distributors of plastics additives, between January 1990 and January 2003. ( See Second Am. Compl., Doc. No. 24, at PP 1, 34). Plaintiffs allege that defendants conspired to fix, maintain, or stabilize the price of plastics additives and to allocate markets in Arizona, Tennessee, and Vermont for the sale of plastics additives. ( See Second Am. Compl., at PP 2, 25-27, 48, 55, 67). Plaintiffs assert causes of action under the antitrust statutes of Arizona, 1 Tennessee, 2 and Vermont ("state antitrust claims"), 3 and under the common law theory of unjust enrichment. ( Id., at PP 47-75).

 [**4] II. Discussion

Defendants' motion to dismiss consists of three primary arguments. First, defendants argue that plaintiffs lack standing to bring their state antitrust claims; defendants reason that the Supreme Court's standing analysis in Associated Gen. Contractors, Inc. v. California State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 103 S. Ct. 897, 74 L. Ed. 2d 723 (1983) (hereafter " AGC"), applies to plaintiffs' state antitrust claims, and that the injury suffered by plaintiffs, as indirect purchasers, is to remote to satisfy this standing analysis. ( See Def. Br., at 4-15). Second, defendants argue that plaintiffs' antitrust claim under Tennessee law fails as a matter of law because plaintiffs' second amended complaint lacks factual allegations to indicate that Tennessee commerce was substantially impacted by defendants' conduct. ( Id., at 15-17). Third, defendants argue that plaintiffs fail to state a claim for unjust enrichment under Arizona, Tennessee, and Vermont law for a variety of reasons, including the failure to allege a direct benefit, the failure to allege a causal relationship between the conferral of the benefit and the detriment to plaintiffs,  [**5]  and the derivative (if not parasitic) relationship between an unjust enrichment claim based upon antitrust conduct and a state antitrust claim. ( Id., at 18-22).

A. Characterization of Motion

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470 F. Supp. 2d 485 *; 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61828 **; 2006-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) P75,514

D.R. WARD CONSTRUCTION CO., et al., Plaintiffs v. ROHM AND HAAS CO., et al., Defendants.

CORE TERMS

antitrust, indirect, enrichment, unjust, plastics, prudential, price-fixing, conspiracy, chain, overcharge, consumers, diversity, commerce, manufacturers, anti-competitive, overpayment, speculative, causation, inflated, causal, remote, impoverishment, discovery, redress, futile

Antitrust & Trade Law, Private Actions, Standing, General Overview, Civil Procedure, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Preliminary Considerations, Federal & State Interrelationships, Erie Doctrine, Justiciability, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Elements, Requirements, Purchasers, Indirect Purchasers, Regulated Practices, State Regulation, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Injury in Fact, Personal Stake, Trade Practices & Unfair Competition, State Regulation, Scope, Claims, Pleadings, Complaints, Contracts Law, Remedies, Equitable Relief, Quantum Meruit, Price Fixing & Restraints of Trade, Exhaustion of Remedies, Contractual Remedies