Defense of Class Action Antitrust Litigation Alleging Chocolate Price-Fixing
In March 2014, the firm secured summary judgment on behalf of a Fortune 500 chocolate manufacturer as lead trial counsel in a multidistrict antitrust litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs were direct purchasers (wholesalers and chain stores) that alleged that our client conspired with other major chocolate manufacturers to fix the price of chocolate singles and “kings” in the U.S. between 2002 and 2007. The district court decided that the record evidence led to the conclusion that “plaintiffs have adduced no evidence tending to exclude the possibility that defendants acted independently.”
Dismissal of Antitrust Case in Municipal Bond Industry
In March 2013, a California state court dismissed a sprawling antitrust case that had been pending for over four years against five financial guaranty insurance companies and three credit ratings agencies. Our client was alleged to have entered into a conspiracy with the three rating agencies to manipulate municipal bond ratings to the detriment of the plaintiffs—over twenty California municipalities, counties and other governmental bodies. After hearing a full day of arguments, the judge ruled from the bench under the California Anti-SLAPP statute that the action implicated rights of free speech, but was brought without sufficient evidence. Then, in March of 2014, the court awarded attorneys’ fees of over $800,000 to the defendants, reputed to be the largest fee award ever granted under the California statute.
Firm attorneys Robert P. LoBue and Jonathan H. Hatch led the briefing and argument for the insurer defendants
Dismissal of Antitrust Lawsuit in Pharmaceutical Industry
In January 2013, the firm secured the dismissal of a multi-million dollar federal antitrust lawsuit against our client, a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical manufacturer. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found that the plaintiff pharmaceutical manufacturer did not have the antitrust injury that is necessary for antitrust standing under Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act.
Our client was the owner of the U.S. New Drug Application for a prescription medicine and was the seller of that medicine in the U.S. The plaintiff was a non-U.S. manufacturer of a competing prescription medicine that was sold under license in the U.S. The plaintiff's antitrust claims were based in part on a 2006 patent litigation settlement agreement between the firm's client and plaintiff's licensee.
On plaintiff's appeal to the Third Circuit of the antitrust claims based on the 2006 settlement, we successfully argued that an ex-U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturer that had licensed a U.S. company to apply for and own the New Drug Application for the foreign manufacturer's medicine was not a competitor of the firm's client for purposes of establishing an antitrust injury. In the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry, plaintiff's decision not to own the New Drug Application precluded it from being a lawful competitor until such time that it becomes the owner of the Application. In addition, the plaintiff's alleged injuries (lost sales of active ingredient to its licensee and royalties on its licensee's U.S. sales) were not the means by which the allegedly anticompetitive effects in the U.S. were achieved. Accordingly, no exception to the general "customer or competitor" rule for antitrust injury was available to plaintiff.