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City of Columbia v. Omni Outdoor Advert. - 499 U.S. 365, 111 S. Ct. 1344 (1991)

Rule:

The Parker defense also requires authority to suppress competition, more specifically, "clear articulation of a state policy to authorize anticompetitive conduct" by the municipality in connection with its regulation. It is enough if suppression of competition is the "foreseeable result" of what the statute authorizes.

Facts:

After respondent Omni Outdoor Advertising, Inc., entered the billboard market in petitioner Columbia, South Carolina, petitioner Columbia Outdoor Advertising, Inc. (COA), which controlled more than 95% of the market and enjoyed close relations with city officials, lobbied these officials to enact zoning ordinances restricting billboard construction. After such ordinances were passed, Omni filed suit against petitioners under §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act and the State's Unfair Trade Practices Act, alleging, inter alia, that the ordinances were the result of an anticompetitive conspiracy that stripped petitioners of any immunity to which they might otherwise be entitled. After Omni obtained a jury verdict on all counts, the District Court granted petitioners' motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the ground that their activities were outside the scope of the federal antitrust laws. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed and reinstated the verdict. The United States Supreme Court granted certitiorari review.

Issue:

Did the Parker immunity apply directly to local governments if the restriction of competition was authorized to implement state policy?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

In overturning the judgment, the United States Supreme Court held that the Parker immunity applied directly to local governments if the restriction of competition was authorized to implement state policy. The Court reasoned that suppression of competition, if the foreseeable result of a delegating statute, was allowable. The Court remanded the case to the appeals court for further determination.

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