Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation

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Plaintiffs, users and operators of independent (non-bank) ATMs, filed related actions against Visa, MasterCard, and certain affiliated banks, alleging anticompetitive schemes for pricing ATM access fees. Plaintiffs alleged anticompetitive harm because Visa and MasterCard prevent an independent operator from charging less, and potentially earning more, when an ATM transaction is processed through a network unaffiliated with Visa and MasterCard. The court held that the district court erred in concluding that plaintiffs had failed to plead adequate facts to establish standing or the existence of a horizontal conspiracy to restrain trade under the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. 1. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to amend the judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Osborn v. Visa Inc." on Justia Law

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The Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (Act), 15 U.S.C. 18a, added section 7A to the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, 15 U.S.C. 12 et seq., to establish notification and waiting requirements for large acquisitions and mergers. The principal purpose of the Act is to facilitate Government identification of mergers and acquisitions likely to violate federal antitrust laws before the proposed deals are consummated. In 2013, the FTC modified its reportable asset acquisition regulations to clarify that, even if patent holders retain limited manufacturing rights or co-rights, transfers of patent rights within the pharmaceutical industry constitute reportable asset acquisitions if all commercially significant rights are transferred. PhRMA filed suit challenging the FTC's Rule and the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the FTC. The court concluded that the Rule does not violate the plain terms of the Act; the court owes deference to the FTC because the contested rule embodies a permissible construction of the Act; and the Commission's action also survives review under the arbitrary and capricious standard. Because the FTC's action is supported by reasoned decisionmaking and PhRMA's claims are without merit, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Pharmaceutical Research v. FTC" on Justia Law

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The FTC initiated an enforcement proceeding against Boehringer after the pharmaceutical company failed to comply with an administrative subpoena seeking various documents related to a settlement agreement between the company and Barr, a generic drug manufacturer. Boeringer subsequently certified compliance with the subpoena but withheld hundreds of responsive documents under the work product doctrine and the attorney-client privilege. Te court rejected the FTC's assertion that the district court erred as a matter of law when it concluded that settlement documents pertaining to a co-promotion agreement between Boehringer and Barr were prepared in anticipation of litigation. The court held that a settlement term may have independent economic value and still be considered part of a settlement for purposes of work product protection. The court also found that the district court reasonably concluded that the bulk of the contested co-promotion materials were prepared in anticipation of the Boehringer-Barr litigation, with a single exception pertaining to post-settlement documents. Therefore, the court generally affirmed the district court's finding on this issue but remanded for further consideration with respect to post-settlement documents. The court agreed with the FTC that the district court misapprehended the proper distinction between fact and opinion work product and reversed and remanded on this issue. View "FTC v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharm." on Justia Law

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After the FTC voted to hold POM and the associated parties liable for violating the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act), 15 U.S.C. 45(a)(1) and 52(a), and ordered them to cease and desist from making misleading and inadequately supported claims about the health benefits of POM products, POM petitioned for review. The court denied most of petitioners' challenges; the court saw no basis to set aside the Commission's conclusion that many of POM's ads made misleading or false claims about POM products; and the Commission had no obligation to adhere to notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures. Further, the court held that the Commission's order is valid to the extent it requires disease claims to be substantiated by at least one randomized and controlled human clinical trial (RCT); the order fails Central Hudson scrutiny because it categorically requires two RCTs for all disease-related claims; the Commission has failed to adequately justify an across-the-board two-RCT requirement for all disease claims by petitioners; and, therefore, Part I of the Commission's order will be modified to require petitioners to possess at least one RCT. The court denied the petition for review in all other respects. View "POM Wonderful LLC v. FTC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of shippers who paid rate-based fuel surcharges, filed an antitrust action alleging that freight railroads engaged in a price-fixing conspiracy. On interlocutory appeal, the freight railroads seek to undo class certification because separate trials were needed to distinguish the shippers the alleged conspiracy injured from those it did not. The court vacated the district court's class certification decision and remanded the case to permit the district court to reconsider its decision in light of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, which clarified the law of class actions after the district court had certified the class. View "In re: Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge Antitrust Litig." on Justia Law

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Pursuant to its authority to regulate "unfair and deceptive" practices in the airline industry, the Department of Transportation issued a final rule entitled "Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections." Spirit Airlines and others challenged three of the rule's provisions. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the petitions for review, holding (1) the requirement that the most prominent figure displayed on print advertisements and websites be the total price, inclusive of taxes, was not arbitrary and capricious or a violation of the First Amendment; (2) the requirement that airlines allow consumers who purchase their tickets more than a week in advance the option of canceling their reservations without penalty for twenty-four hours following purchase was not arbitrary and capricious; and (3) the prohibition against increasing the price of air transportation and baggage fees after consumers purchase their tickets was not procedurally unlawful or otherwise arbitrary and capricious. View "Spirit Airlines, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Transp. " on Justia Law

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Church & Dwight, the leading manufacturer of condoms in the United States, appealed an order of the district court enforcing a subpoena and an accompanying civil investigation demand (CID), issued by the FTC insofar as the FTC would require it to produce information related to its sales of products other than condoms. Church & Dwight contended that such information was not reasonably relevant to the FTC's investigation into its potentially monopolistic practices in the market for condoms. Because the FTC's inquiry lawfully extended to the possibility that Church & Dwight engaged in the exclusionary bundling of rebates to retailers that sold condoms and other Church & Dwight products, the court held that the district court did not err in finding that the information on products other than condoms was reasonably relevant to the FTC's investigation. Accordingly, the court affirmed the order enforcing the subpoena and the CID against Church & Dwight. View "Federal Trade Comm'n v. Church & Dwight Co., Inc." on Justia Law