Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation
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DFA filed suit against Estee Lauder after Estee Lauder refused to do business with DFA and communicated that fact to airport authorities evaluating whether to offer rental space to DFA. DFW alleged three claims in its amended complaint: (1) attempted monopolization, in violation of section 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 2; (2) contributory false advertising, in violation of section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a); and (3) tortious interference with a prospective business relationship, in violation of Florida law. The district court dismissed the suit based on failure to state a claim. The court concluded that DFW failed to allege basic facts sufficient to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face where DFW did not adequately allege that Estee Lauder engaged in predatory or anticompetitive conduct for its antitrust claims; DFA does not come close to establishing standing to seek injunctive relief from the requirements that Estée Lauder places on its competitors, inasmuch as DFA no longer does any business with Estée Lauder; DFA failed to plead sufficient facts from which a court could find that Estée Lauder made false statements, or, for that matter, was responsible for any such statements made by DFA’s competitors in DFA's false advertising claim; and the complaint failed to allege any improper conduct sufficient to constitute tortious interference with a business relationship in violation of Florida law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Duty Free Americas, Inc. v. The Estee Lauder Co." on Justia Law

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DFA filed suit against Estee Lauder after Estee Lauder refused to do business with DFA and communicated that fact to airport authorities evaluating whether to offer rental space to DFA. DFW alleged three claims in its amended complaint: (1) attempted monopolization, in violation of section 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 2; (2) contributory false advertising, in violation of section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a); and (3) tortious interference with a prospective business relationship, in violation of Florida law. The district court dismissed the suit based on failure to state a claim. The court concluded that DFW failed to allege basic facts sufficient to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face where DFW did not adequately allege that Estee Lauder engaged in predatory or anticompetitive conduct for its antitrust claims; DFA does not come close to establishing standing to seek injunctive relief from the requirements that Estée Lauder places on its competitors, inasmuch as DFA no longer does any business with Estée Lauder; DFA failed to plead sufficient facts from which a court could find that Estée Lauder made false statements, or, for that matter, was responsible for any such statements made by DFA’s competitors in DFA's false advertising claim; and the complaint failed to allege any improper conduct sufficient to constitute tortious interference with a business relationship in violation of Florida law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Duty Free Americas, Inc. v. The Estee Lauder Co." on Justia Law

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The issue in this case arose from alleged anticompetitive conduct in the ductile iron pipe fittings ("DIPF") market by McWane, Inc., a family-run company headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2009, following the passage of federal legislation that provided a large infusion of money for waterworks projects that required domestic pipe fittings, Star Pipe Products entered the domestic fittings market. In response, McWane, the dominant producer of domestic pipe fittings, announced to its distributors that (with limited exceptions) unless they bought all of their domestic fittings from McWane, they would lose their rebates and be cut off from purchases for 12 weeks. The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") investigated and brought an enforcement action under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. sec. 45. The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), and a divided Commission, found that McWane's actions constituted an illegal exclusive dealing policy used to maintain McWane's monopoly power in the domestic fittings market. The Commission issued an order directing McWane to stop requiring exclusivity from distributors. McWane appealed, challenging nearly every aspect of the Commission's ruling. After thorough review, the Eleventh Circuit found the Commission's factual and economic conclusions were supported by substantial evidence in the record. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the Commission's ruling. View "McWane, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Astellas holds patents on a cardiac test and sells its unpatented pharmaceutical product, Adenoscan, for using during that test. The Medical Center, which conducts cardiac tests, filed suit under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, alleging that Astellas is able to overcharge the Medical Center for the Adenoscan product by unlawfully tying the patented right to perform the patented cardiac test to the purchase of the unpatented Adenoscan. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing the Medical Center's request to certify a class seeking damages against Astellas for unlawful tying because the direct purchaser rule precludes the Medical Center's own treble damages claim. The district court also did not abuse its discretion in refusing to certify the class for purposes of seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "Lakeland Regional Medical Center v. Astellas US, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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In 2000, physicians and physician associations imitated a group of class actions against various providers of health plans, which were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation. This appeal involves this complex, twelve-year-old multidistrict litigation, a related multidistrict litigation pending in another federal district, and whether the district court reasonably interpreted the Settlement Agreement in the first action. The court affirmed the Injunction as to plaintiffs' Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961, and antitrust claims and as to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., claims based on the denial or underpayment of benefits following the Settlement Agreement's Effective Date. On remand, the district court will need to determine which of plaintiffs' ERISA claims fall on the permissible side of the line, and reconsider the assessment of sanctions. View "Medical Assoc. of GA, et al. v. Wellpoint, Inc." on Justia Law

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Atlanticus brought an antitrust counterclaim against Akanthos and other hedge funds. Atlanticus' counterclaim was identical to the complaint that Atlanticus brought in another antitrust lawsuit between the same parties. The district court dismissed the complaint in the other lawsuit and the court affirmed. The court concluded that res judicata barred Atlanticus from pursuing the present appeal and denied the noteholders' motion for fees and costs under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 38. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal of the antitrust counterclaim, denied the noteholders' motion to dismiss the appeal as moot, and denied the noteholders' motion for fees and costs. View "Akanthos Capital Mgmt., et al. v. Atlanticus Holdings Corp." on Justia Law

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In this antitrust case, GSRG challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Nucor. The court affirmed, concluding that GSRG's definition of the product market was too restrictive, for it refused to acknowledge that pickled and oiled steel manufacturers could enter the fray in order to enrich themselves on the inflated prices of black hot rolled coil steel. That would, in turn, increase the supply, and lower the price, of black hot rolled coil steel. It would also sap Nucor's potential monopoly over power. GSRG ignored this "actual or potential" economic construct, and its failure to account for cross-elasticity of supply was fatal to the attempted monopolization claim under the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 2. View "Gulf States Reorganization Group, Inc. v. Nucor Corp." on Justia Law

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Sunbeam is one of Nielsen's customers in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area and uses Nielsen's ratings in operating a FOX-affiliated broadcast television channel in Miami. Sunbeam filed an antitrust suit, the claims principally stemmed from Nielsen's alleged improper and defective implementation of new ratings technology. The court concluded that the district court correctly held that Sunbeam lacked antitrust standing to pursue this lawsuit as it failed to establish that it was an efficient enforcer of the antitrust laws. Without antitrust standing, the court did not reach the other issues on appeal. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Sunbeam Television Corp. v. Nielsen Media Research, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case involved a type of patent litigation settlement known as a "pay for delay" or "reverse payment" agreement. In this type of settlement, a patent holder paid the allegedly infringing generic drug company to delay entering the market until a specified date, thereby protecting the patent monopoly against a judgment that the patent was invalid or would not be infringed by the generic competitor. This case began when the FTC filed a complaint in district court alleging that the reverse payment settlements between the holder of a drug patent and two generic manufacturers of the drug were unfair restraints on trade that violated federal antitrust laws. The court's precedent established the rule that, absent sham litigation or fraud in obtaining the patent, a reverse payment settlement was immune from antitrust attack so long as its anticompetitive effects fell within the scope of the exclusionary potential of the patent. The court rejected the FTC's claims to the contrary and affirmed the judgment. View "FTC v. Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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The Commission brought this action to obtain a preliminary injunction against appellees, alleging that the Authority's purchase of Palmyra would create a monopoly in the relevant market. The district court dismissed the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), holding that appellees were entitled to the state-action immunity. The Commission appealed. The court agreed with the Commission that, on the facts alleged, the joint operation of Memorial and Palmyra would substantially lessen competition or tend to create, if not create, a monopoly. The court held, however, that the acquisition of Palmyra and its subsequent operation at the Authority's behest by PPHS were authorized pursuant to a clearly articulated state policy to displace competition. Consequently, the execution of the plan was protected by state-action immunity. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court was affirmed.