Justia U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation
SD3 II, LLC v. Black & Decker
SawStop filed an antitrust suit against Table Saw Manufacturers, alleging that the Table Saw Manufacturers had colluded in contravention of antitrust laws to exclude its proprietary technology from the market. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Table Saw Manufacturers based on statute of limitations grounds. The court held that the doctrine of fraudulent concealment was not applicable in this case; SawStop was on actual notice of its antitrust claim against the Table Saw Manufacturers; even if SawStop lacked actual notice of its antitrust claim, SawStop was on inquiry notice of that claim and SawStop failed to investigate its claim with the necessary diligence; and thus the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the Table Saw Manufacturers. View "SD3 II, LLC v. Black & Decker" on Justia Law
Association for Accessible Medicine v. Frosh
In 2017, Maryland enacted “An Act concerning Public Health – Essential Off-Patent or Generic Drugs – Price Gouging – Prohibition.” The Act, Md. Code, Health–General 2-802(a), prohibits manufacturers or wholesale distributors from “engag[ing] in price gouging in the sale of an essential off-patent or generic drug,” defines “price gouging” as “an unconscionable increase in the price of a prescription drug,” and “unconscionable increase” as “excessive and not justified by the cost of producing the drug or the cost of appropriate expansion of access to the drug to promote public health” that results in consumers having no meaningful choice about whether to purchase the drug at an excessive price due to the drug’s importance to their health and insufficient competition. The “essential” medications are “made available for sale in [Maryland]” and either appear on the Model List of Essential Medicines most recently adopted by the World Health Organization or are “designated . . . as an essential medicine due to [their] efficacy in treating a life-threatening health condition or a chronic health condition that substantially impairs an individual’s ability to engage in activities of daily living.” The Fourth Circuit reversed the dismissal of a “dormant commerce clause” challenge to the Act, finding that it directly regulates the price of transactions that occur outside Maryland. View "Association for Accessible Medicine v. Frosh" on Justia Law
It’s My Party, Inc. v. Live Nation, Inc.
IMP filed suit against LN, alleging that LN violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. 1 et seq., by engaging in monopolization, tying arrangements, and exclusive dealing in the music concert industry. IMP and LN both promote concert tours and operate concert venues, but they differ in geographic reach. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to LN, concluding that IMP failed to define the relevant markets or to demonstrate any anticompetitive conduct. View "It's My Party, Inc. v. Live Nation, Inc." on Justia Law
SD3, LLC v. Black & Decker
SawStop filed suit against two dozen saw manufacturers and affiliated entities under section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, contending that several major table-saw manufacturers conspired to boycott SawStop’s safety technology and corrupt a private safety-standard-setting process, all with the aim of keeping that technology off the market. The district court dismissed SawStop's amended complaint. The court concluded that SawStop's complaint does not plausibly allege any conspiracy to manipulate safety standards; the complaint also fails to allege any facts at all against several corporate parents and affiliates; and therefore, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal as to these claims. However, the court concluded that SawStop has alleged enough to suggest a plausible agreement to engage in a group boycott where the complaint offers enough to survive defendants’ motion to dismiss. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's dismissal as to this claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "SD3, LLC v. Black & Decker" on Justia Law
Kolon Indus. Inc. v. E. I. DuPont De Nemour
DuPont filed suit against Kolon, alleging the theft and misappropriation of its Kevlar trade secrets (the trade secrets case). Kolon's answer included the instant counterclaim (the antitrust case), alleging that DuPont had illegally monopolized and attempted to monopolize the U.S. para-aramid market through its supply agreements with high-volume para-aramid customers. Para-aramid is a strong, complex synthetic fiber used in body armor, tires, fiber optic cables, and a variety of other industrial products. The court concluded that following United States v. Owens, recusals under 28 U.S.C. 455(b) include a judicially implied timely-filing requirement, and that the district court acted within its discretion when it denied Kolon's recusal motion on timeliness grounds. The court deferred to the district court's considerable discretion in overseeing discovery and will not disturb its discovery rulings. On the merits of Kolon's antitrust suit, Kolon has failed to raise a triable issue of material fact sufficient to sustain either its attempted or actual monopolization claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "Kolon Indus. Inc. v. E. I. DuPont De Nemour" on Justia Law
FTC v. Ross
The FTC filed suit against defendant for engaging in deceptive internet advertising practices involving the use of a "scareware" scheme that tricked consumers into purchasing computer security software. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's judgment enjoining her from participating in the deceptive practices and holding her jointly and severally liable for equitable monetary consumer redress. The court concluded that the district court had sufficient statutory power to award "complete relief," including monetary consumer redress, which is a form of equitable relief; the court held that one may be found individually liable under the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 41 et seq., if she (1) participated directly in the deceptive practices or had authority to control those practices, and (2) had or should have had knowledge of the deceptive practices; the court rejected defendant's evidentiary challenges; the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant had authority to control the deceptive acts within the meaning of the Act nor did the district court clearly err in finding that defendant directly participated in the deceptive marketing scheme; and the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant had actual knowledge of the deceptive marketing scheme and/or that she was at the very least recklessly indifferent or intentionally avoided the truth. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "FTC v. Ross" on Justia Law
The NC State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC
The Board petitioned for review of the FTC order finding that it violated the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 45, by engaging in unfair competition in the market for teeth-whitening services in North Carolina. The court concluded that the Board was not exempt from the antitrust laws under the state action doctrine; the Board engaged in a combination or conspiracy under section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1; and substantial evidence supported the FTC's factual findings regarding the economic effects of the Board's actions and that those findings supported the conclusion that the Board's behavior violated section 1. Accordingly, the court denied the petition. View "The NC State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC" on Justia Law
AU Optronics Corp. v. State of South Carolina
LG Display sought to appeal the district court's rejection of their assertions of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332. South Carolina initiated these cases in state court, alleging violations of the State's Antitrust Act and its Unfair Trade Practices Act (SCUTPA), S.C. Code 39-3-130, -180. The court concluded that CAFA's minimal diversity requirement was not satisfied in either of these cases, and the district court properly remanded them to state court. Accordingly, the petitions for appeal of LG Display were granted and the Remanded Decisions were affirmed. View "AU Optronics Corp. v. State of South Carolina" on Justia Law
Robertson v. Sea Pines Real Estate Co.
This case involved two putative class actions, consolidated on interlocutory appeal, brought by purchasers of real estate brokerage services in South Carolina. Each complaint alleged that the real estate brokerages serving as board members of the local multiple listing service (MLS) conspired to unfairly restrain market competition in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. 1. The court held that plaintiffs sufficiently pled the plurality of actors necessary for section 1 to apply. At this early stage of the litigation, the court was not in a position to weigh the alleged anticompetitve risks of the MLS rules against their procompetitive justifications. This rule of reason inquiry was best conducted with the benefit of discovery and the court expressed no view on the merits of the litigation beyond recognizing the sufficiency of the complaints. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Robertson v. Sea Pines Real Estate Co." on Justia Law
Dominion Resources Serv. v. 5K Logistics, Inc.
This case involved the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C. 14706, which set up a framework for the timely filing of claims against carriers for damaged cargo. In this case, it was undisputed that neither the shipper nor the shipping broker filed either a claim or a lawsuit within the prescribed time limitations. Therefore, were the court to create some exception to the statutorily authorized, contractually mandated requirements of prompt filing, the court would blow a hole in the balance struck by the Carmack Amendment and undermine Congress's intent to protect carriers against stale claims. Therefore, the court reversed the judgment of the district court in favor of the shipping broker and remanded with instructions to dismiss the lawsuit.