Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation
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In this case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the plaintiffs were U.S. investors who purchased Mexican government bonds. They alleged that the defendants, Mexican branches of several multinational banks, conspired to fix the prices of the bonds. The defendants sold the bonds to the plaintiffs through non-party broker-dealers. The defendants moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, and the District Court granted the motion, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction as the alleged misconduct, price-fixing of bonds, occurred solely in Mexico.Upon appeal, the Second Circuit vacated and remanded the case. The court found that the defendants had sufficient minimum contacts with New York as they had solicited and executed bond sales through their agents, the broker-dealers. The plaintiffs' claims arose from or were related to these contacts. The court rejected the defendants' argument that the alleged wrongdoing must occur in the jurisdiction for personal jurisdiction to exist, stating that the defendants' alleged active sales of price-fixed bonds through their agents in New York sufficed to establish personal jurisdiction. The court remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "In re: Mexican Government Bonds Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law

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In the case before the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois, the State of Illinois, represented by the Attorney General, alleged that Elite Staffing, Inc., Metro Staff, Inc., and Midway Staffing, Inc. (collectively, the staffing agencies) violated the Illinois Antitrust Act. The agencies, which supplied temporary workers to a company called Colony Display, were claimed to have agreed to fix wages for their employees at below-market rates and agreed not to hire each other's employees. The staffing agencies argued that the Act did not apply to the charged conduct, and the case was sent to the Supreme Court for interlocutory review.The Supreme Court held that the Illinois Antitrust Act does not exempt agreements between competitors to hold down wages and to limit employment opportunities for their employees from antitrust scrutiny. For the purposes of the Act, the court clarified that "service" does not exclude all agreements concerning labor services. It particularly noted that multiemployer agreements concerning wages they will pay their employees and whether they will hire each other's employees may violate the Act unless the agreement arises as part of the bargaining process and the affected employees, through their collective bargaining representatives, have sought to bargain with the multiemployer unit.The court vacated the appellate court’s answer to a question it had formulated and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "State ex rel. Raoul v. Elite Staffing, Inc." on Justia Law

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In a dispute between Ultra Bond, Inc., and its owner, Richard Campfield (collectively "Ultra Bond"), and Safelite Group, Inc. and its affiliates (collectively "Safelite"), both parties operate in the vehicle glass repair and replacement industry. Ultra Bond alleges that Safelite violated the Lanham Act by falsely advertising that windshield cracks longer than six inches could not be safely repaired and instead required replacement of the entire windshield. Safelite counterclaims that Ultra Bond stole trade secrets from Safelite in violation of state and federal law.The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the district court was incorrect to grant summary judgment to Safelite on Ultra Bond’s Lanham Act claim. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that Safelite's allegedly false statements may have caused economic injury to Ultra Bond, and this issue should go to a jury.The court also affirmed the district court's decision that Safelite's claims for conversion, civil conspiracy, and tortious interference with contract were preempted by the Ohio Uniform Trade Secrets Act (OUTSA). However, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Ultra Bond on Safelite’s claim under OUTSA, ruling that Safelite's claim was not time-barred and should be evaluated further in the lower court.Finally, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Ultra Bond on Safelite's unfair competition claim, finding that Safelite hadn't provided enough evidence to support its claim that Ultra Bond's statements were false or that they had led to a diversion of customers from Safelite to Ultra Bond. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Campfield v. Safelite Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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The case involved a dispute between Winn-Dixie Stores and the Eastern Mushroom Marketing Cooperative, Inc. (EMMC), its individual mushroom farmer members, and certain downstream distributors. Winn-Dixie accused the defendants of violating antitrust laws by engaging in a price-fixing agreement. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the District Court was correct in applying the rule of reason, rather than a "quick-look" review, in assessing the legality of the defendants' pricing policy under the Sherman Act. The court found that the complex and variable nature of the arrangements within the cooperative, involving both horizontal and vertical components, necessitated a careful analysis to determine anticompetitive effects. The court also held that the jury's verdict, which found that the defendants' pricing policy did not harm competition, was not against the weight of the evidence and did not warrant a new trial. The court affirmed the District Court’s judgment in favor of the defendants. View "Winn Dixie Stores v. Eastern Mushroom Marketing Cooperative Inc" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Coronavirus Reporter, CALID, Inc., Primary Productions LLC, and Dr. Jeffrey D. Isaacs sued Defendant Apple for its allegedly monopolist operation of the Apple App Store. The district court dismissed the claims with prejudice for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and denied the remaining motions as moot. Plaintiffs-Appellants appealed.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed. The panel held that Plaintiffs failed to state an antitrust claim under Section 1 or Section 2 of the Sherman Act, arising from Apple’s rejection of their apps for distribution through the App Store, because they did not sufficiently allege a plausible relevant market, either for their rejected apps as compared to other apps, or for apps in general. The panel held that Plaintiffs failed to state a claim for breach of contract under California law because they did not identify relevant specific provisions of Apple’s Developer Agreement or Developer Program License Agreement or show that Apple breached a specific provision. View "CORONAVIRUS REPORTER, ET AL V. APPLE, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law

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BioCorRx, Inc. (BioCorRx) was a publicly traded company primarily engaged in the business of providing addiction treatment services and related medication. It issued several press releases that allegedly made misrepresentations and improperly disclosed confidential information about a treatment it was developing for opioid overdose. VDM Biochemicals, Inc. (VDM) specializes in the synthesis and distribution of chemicals, reagents, and other specialty products for life science research. It owned a patent (the patent) for VDM-001, a compound with potential use as a treatment for opioid overdose. In September 2018, VDM and BioCorRx entered into a Mutual Nondisclosure & Confidentiality Agreement (the NDA), which restricted each party’s disclosure of confidential information as they discussed forming a business relationship. A month later, VDM and BioCorRx signed a Letter of Intent to Enter Definitive Agreement to Acquire Stake in Intellectual Property (the letter of intent). The letter of intent memorialized the parties’ shared desire whereby BioCorRx would partner with VDM to develop and commercialize VDM-001. BioCorRx and VDM never signed a formal contract concerning VDM-001. Their relationship eventually soured. BioCorRx filed a complaint (the complaint) against VDM; VDM cross-complained. In response, BioCorRx filed the anti-SLAPP motion at issue here, seeking to strike all the allegations from the cross-complaint concerning the press releases. The Court of Appeal found these statements fell within the commercial speech exemption of California's Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 (the anti-SLAPP statute) because they were representations about BioCorRx’s business operations that were made to investors to promote its goods and services through the sale of its securities. Since these statements were not protected by the anti-SLAPP statute, the Court reversed the part of the trial court’s order granting the anti-SLAPP motion as to the press releases. The Court affirmed the unchallenged portion of the order striking unrelated allegations. View "BioCorRx, Inc. v. VDM Biochemicals, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Armadillo Hotel Group, LLC (“Armadillo”) is a buyer and operator of modular and mobile structures throughout North America. According to Armadillo, Defendants Todd Harris and Jason McDaniel were hired in May 2019 to oversee Armadillo’s construction operations and its hotel, food, and beverage operations, respectively. McDaniel resigned in January 2021, Harris in July 2021. Harris and McDaniel asserted that they entered employment agreements with AHG Management as part of the joint venture, but AHG Management breached these agreements by failing to pay the agreed-upon salary, bonuses, and profit-sharing interests. They asserted claims of fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation, tortious interference, and unjust enrichment. Harris, McDaniel, SDRS, and BMC moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. The district court granted the non-GML defendants’ motion to dismiss with prejudice.   The Fifth Circuit reversed. The court explained that it could not find sufficient information in the record to decide if Armadillo and AHG Management were in privity with each other. The fact that the same attorneys filed AHG Management’s amended state counterclaim and Armadillo’s federal complaint is insufficient to show privity. Accordingly, the court found that the district court did not have sufficient information or even assertions about the relationship of Armadillo and AHG Management to perform such an assessment. View "Armadillo Hotel v. Harris" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Van Sant & Co. (Van Sant) owned and operated a mobile home park in Calhan, Colorado, for a number of years. In 2018, Van Sant began to publicly explore the possibility of converting its mobile home park to an RV park. In October 2018, Calhan adopted an ordinance that imposed regulations on the development of new RV parks, but also included a grandfather clause that effectively exempted the two existing RV parks in Calhan, one of which was connected to the grandparents of two members of Calhan’s Board of Trustees (Board) who voted in favor of the new RV park regulations. Van Sant subsequently filed suit against Calhan, several members of its Board, the owners of one of the existing RV parks, and other related individuals. asserting antitrust claims under the Sherman Act, as well as substantive due process and equal protection claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defendants successfully moved for summary judgment. Van Sant appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Van Sant & Co. v. Town of Calhan, et al." on Justia Law

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In this case, the Federal Trade Commission appeals the district court’s dismissal of claims against pharmaceutical manufacturers for violations of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act. The district court dismissed the action against Appellees Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Endo), its parent, Endo International plc (Endo International), Impax Laboratories, LLC (Impax), and its parent, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Amneal) (collectively Appellees) for failure to state a claim because a single patentee granting an exclusive license is conduct protected and allowed under the Patent Act. 35 U.S.C. 261;The D.C. Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the Commission’s claims. The court concluded that the resolution of the case came down to the following question: Does a valid patent holder’s grant of a nearly exclusive license to a single potential competitor in exchange for royalty payments violate antitrust law when that nearly exclusive license restrains trade only to an extent traditionally recognized by patent law as reasonable? The court answered the question in the negative, holding that under FTC v. Actavis, Inc., when a complaint alleges that a patent holder has violated the antitrust laws, courts must strike a balance “between the lawful restraint on trade of the patent monopoly and the illegal restraint prohibited broadly by the Sherman Act.” The Court must defer to Congress’ judgment, as outlined in the Patent Act. View "FTC v. Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc." on Justia Law

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For decades, Johns Manville Corp. ("JM") was the sole domestic manufacturer and supplier of calcium silicate (or “calsil”), a substance used to make thermal pipe insulation. In March 2018, Chase Manufacturing, Inc. (doing business as Thermal Pipe Shields, Inc., or "TPS") challenged JM’s monopoly status by entering the calsil market with a superior and less expensive product. JM responded by threatening distributors that it would not sell to them if they bought TPS’s competing calsil. By August 2021, more than three years after TPS’s market entry, JM retained over 97% of the domestic calsil market. TPS sued under the Sherman Act, alleging that JM had unlawfully: (1) maintained its monopoly; and (2) tied the availability of its insulation products to distributors’ not buying TPS’s calsil. The district court granted summary judgment for JM. Though the Tenth Circuit affirmed some of the district court’s rulings, it held that the district court erred in finding no genuine issues of material fact on whether JM unlawfully maintained its monopoly after TPS’s market entry. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Chase Manufacturing v. Johns Manville Corporation" on Justia Law