Alleged Price-Fixing Among Turkey Product Suppliers Through Industry Reporting And Trade Association Activity Survives Second Motion To Dismiss
On November 21, 2022, Judge Virginia Kendall of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied a motion to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit alleging that ten turkey product suppliers coordinated pricing and reduced output though direct communications, trade association meetings, and industry reports provided by co-defendant Agri Stats, Inc. In re Turkey Antitrust Litig., No. 19-8318 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 21, 2022). The Court had previously dismissed as implausible an initial, single-paragraph allegation of a per se violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The case proceeded, however, on plaintiffs’ separate allegations of improper exchanges of competitively sensitive information under the rule of reason. Over a year later and after completion of substantial discovery, plaintiffs amended their complaint to renew their per se claim. The motion to dismiss here only related to the per se violation. In denying the motion to dismiss, the Court ruled that plaintiffs’ complaint sufficiently alleged parallel conduct in the form of coordinated capacity reductions and price increases, as well as certain additional “plus factors” that could suggest an agreement among defendants.
Fifth Circuit Rejects Hospital Operator’s Antitrust Claims Against Dominant Medical Provider In Shreveport, Louisiana
On September 19, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the operator of a hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana had failed to adequately plead Sherman Act § 1 and § 2 claims against the dominant medical provider in the Shreveport market. BRFHH Shreveport, LLC v. Willis-Knighton Medical Center, No. 21-30622 (5th Cir. Sep. 19, 2022).
Sixth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Antitrust Lawsuit Against Football Helmet Manufacturers
On September 9, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a district court’s dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit filed against defendants National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (“NOCSAE”) and a group of football helmet manufacturers including Riddell, Inc., Kranos Corp., and Xenith, LLC. Hobart-Mayfield, Inc. v. Nat’l Operating Comm. on Standards for Athletic Equip., No. 21-1441 (6th Cir. Sept. 9, 2022). The Court ruled that plaintiff Hobart-Mayfield, Inc.’s (Mayfield) complaint alleging antitrust violations in the alleged football helmet market failed to state a claim for plausible relief and was properly dismissed by the trial court upon defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
Eleventh Circuit Reverses District Court Dismissal On Shotgun Pleading And Standing Grounds
On August 26, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded a district court’s dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit filed against Defendants Google LLC, YouTube Inc., and Alphabet Inc. on shotgun pleading and antitrust standing grounds. Inform Inc. v. Google LLC, No. 21-13289 (11th Cir. Aug. 26, 2022). The Court ruled that plaintiff Inform Inc.’s amended complaint, while lengthy and perhaps unclear, sufficiently put defendants on notice of their alleged antitrust violations in the markets for online advertising and that plaintiff met the Eleventh Circuit’s two-prong test for pleading antitrust standing.
Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Antitrust Allegations In DRAM Pricing Case
On March 7, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of claims that the three largest manufacturers of dynamic random-access memory (“DRAM”) conspired to artificially inflate prices by restricting supply. In re DRAM Indirect Purchaser Antitrust Litigation, 21-15125 (9th Cir. Mar. 7, 2022). Plaintiffs alleged that defendants conspired to simultaneously reduce the production of DRAM in order to drive up prices. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed the claims because plaintiffs’ allegations did not rise to the level of plausibility required under Rule 12(b)(6). The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the facts as alleged were not sufficient to establish that defendants’ alleged conduct was the result of a “preceding agreement,” rather than conscious parallel behavior.
Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Section 1 Complaint Against Medical Board For Failure To Plead Facts Supporting Conspiracy Allegations
On October 8, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the Northern District of Illinois’ dismissal of a complaint alleging that a nonprofit provider of medical certifications violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by conspiring to restrain trade in the alleged nationwide market for medical care. The three-judge panel found that plaintiff, an association of medical practitioners, alleged only conclusory claims against defendant and failed to plead adequate facts to state a claim for unlawful conspiracy under Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Ass’n of Am. Physicians & Surgeons, Inc. v. Am. Board of Med. Specialties, No. 20-3072 (7th Cir. Oct. 8, 2021).