Brad Weber is the Co-Chair of Locke Lord's Antitrust Practice Group, working in both the Dallas and Washington, D.C., offices. He also is a Past Chair of the Antitrust & Business Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas, a former Director on the Board of the State Bar of Texas and a Past President of the Dallas Bar Association.
Brad has developed a full-service antitrust practice with an emphasis on litigation, government investigations and antitrust compliance. His recent litigation cases have involved clients from a wide range of industries, including building products, energy, chemicals, financial services, medical devices, travel services, telecommunications and agriculture. He also has extensive experience representing clients in class actions and multidistrict litigation.
Brad's litigation skills have been recognized by virtually every prestigious legal-rating service. The Best Lawyers in America® recognized him as the "Lawyer of the Year" for Antitrust Law in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for 2022, an honor bestowed each year to only one lawyer in a practice area and metropolitan area. He also was honored in 2015 by The National Law Journal as one of 25 “Trailblazers” in the United States for M&A and Antitrust Law, and he is recognized as a “Band 2” rated lawyer for Antitrust Law in Texas by Chambers USA. For the last several years, Brad also has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for Antitrust Law and by Super Lawyers® for Antitrust Litigation. In addition, for more than 17 years, he has had the highest possible Peer and Judicial rating, AV Preeminent, by Martindale-Hubbell for legal ability and ethical standards.
Antitrust clients interviewed by Chambers described Brad as a talented attorney who is “excellent from a technical perspective,” “very, very professional and thorough,” and “proactive, knowledgeable, and an excellent communicator.” Another of Brad's clients noted that he "is the antitrust guru... if we have a complex antitrust issue we go to him."
In addition to his litigation practice, Brad frequently represents clients in government antitrust investigations, enforcement actions and merger reviews with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. Department of Justice-Antitrust Division (DOJ) and numerous state antitrust enforcement agencies. He also advises clients on the antitrust implications of proposed transactions and other business activities, including compliance and reporting under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, and provides consultation, analysis and advice regarding the antitrust laws as they relate to various business relationships and trade association activities. A client represented by Brad in a government investigation told Chambers that he “works magic” with antitrust regulators, with another client noting that "his experience with prior transactions gives him a wealth of knowledge and experience."
Brad speaks and writes frequently on antitrust law enforcement, practice, policy and compliance. He is a frequent guest lecturer on antitrust and trade regulation at the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University. He also has been a speaker at the State Bar of Texas' Federal Court Practice seminars, where his topics have included Dispositive Motions and Trial Procedure. Companies and other groups frequently request him to present antitrust compliance training programs to their officers, in-house counsel and other employees.
Brad is a leader in local, state and national bar associations, including his service as the President of the Dallas Bar Association in 2015. He also serves as Vice-Chair of the Dallas Bar Foundation, and previously served as Chair of the DBA's Board of Directors in 2011, Chair of the DBA's Finance Committee from 2008 to 2013 and President of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers in 1998. On the state level, Brad is a former Director on the Board of the State Bar of Texas, and he is a Past Chair of the SBOT Antitrust & Business Litigation Section.
Brad's representative experience includes:
- In re Domestic Drywall Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2437: Was lead counsel for one of the defendants in class action and “opt-out” price-fixing cases against the leading manufacturers of drywall in the United States. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by conspiring to fix prices for gypsum drywall. This multidistrict litigation matter was consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
- In re Liquid Aluminum Sulfate Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2687: Was lead counsel for a chemical company and one of its senior executives who were named as defendants in various cases involving claims of alleged price fixing and bid rigging for the sale of liquid aluminum sulfate (alum), which is used by municipalities and industrial manufacturers for the purification of water. The federal multidistrict litigation matter was consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, and related state court actions involving False Claim Act statutes are pending in Illinois, North Carolina and Virginia. Our clients were dismissed from each of the cases after we filed motions to dismiss.
- In re Online Travel Company (OTC)/Hotel Booking Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2405: Represented two affiliated online travel company defendants in a class action price-fixing case against all of the major online travel reservation companies and most of the major hotel chains. The plaintiffs were consumers who booked hotel rooms using online travel reservation services. They alleged that the defendants violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by entering into a conspiracy to fix the rates for hotel rooms that are booked using online travel reservation websites. The district court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint and later entered a Final Judgment dismissing the case. This multidistrict litigation matter was consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
Market Index Manipulation Cases
- In re Western States Wholesale Natural Gas Antirust Litigation, MDL No. 1566: Was lead counsel for two affiliated national gas company defendants in MDL class action antitrust cases arising out of the energy crisis of 2000-2001. The plaintiffs, who purchased natural gas in unregulated retail transactions, alleged that our clients and the other defendants violated various state antitrust laws by conspiring to manipulate the natural gas market through the delivery of false transaction reports to publishers of natural gas index prices. The district court granted the defendants' summary judgment motion based on a preemption defense, but the U.S. Supreme Court, in Oneok, Inc. v. Learjet, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 1591 (2015), reversed the district court's summary judgment and held that the Natural Gas Act does not preempt the state antitrust claims. As a result of this decision, the cases were remanded back to the district court for further pretrial proceedings. The MDL matter was consolidated in the District of Nevada.
- Varsity Brands, LLC Antitrust Litigation. Representing Jeffrey Webb, the founder and former CEO of Varsity Brands, LLC, in two separate antitrust class actions. In one class action filed by competitors of Varsity Brands, the plaintiffs allege violations of Section 2 of the Sherman Act through the monopolization of the competitive cheerleading market. In a separate class action filed by indirect purchasers of Varsity Brands’ products and services, the plaintiffs allege violations of more than 30 state antitrust and consumer protection laws, premised on claims of monopolization of the competitive cheerleading market. The cases are pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
Market Allocation Cases
- Love Terminal Partners v. City of Dallas, Texas: Represented the nation's largest airline in an antitrust action that was brought by the leaseholders of land at Love Field airport in Dallas. The plaintiffs claimed that American Airlines and Southwest Airlines conspired to divide the market for flights to and from North Texas, thus allowing them to preserve their dominant market shares at DFW Airport and Love Field. The action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas and was dismissed by the plaintiffs following an appeal to the Fifth Circuit.
Group Boycott Cases
- American Institute of Intradermal Cosmetics, Inc. v. The Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals: Represented the plaintiff in an antitrust action against a trade association and several of its officers, directors and members. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants conspired in an illegal group boycott and the arbitrary enforcement of subjective, self-enacted industry standards within the permanent cosmetic industry. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and was settled on confidential terms after the district court denied the defendants' motions to dismiss.
Information Exchange Cases
- In re Compensation of Managerial, Professional, and Technical (MPT) Employees Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1471: Represented one of the nation's largest oil companies in a class action wage-fixing case against all of the major U.S. oil companies. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by exchanging confidential employee compensation information in furtherance of a conspiracy to reduce competition and suppress salaries for oil company employees. The defendants successfully defeated class certification, and following two appeals to the Third Circuit, the case was settled. This multidistrict litigation matter was consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
- DOJ Investigation of Riviana Foods/TreeHouse Foods Transaction. Represented Riviana Foods, Inc., in a transaction that resulted in the sale of most of Riviana’s pasta brands and physical assets in the United States. The buyer in the transaction was TreeHouse Foods, Inc. (TreeHouse), which was a large competitor in the U.S. pasta market. We worked closely with TreeHouse’s antitrust counsel to identify certain pasta business assets and pasta brands that might cause antitrust concerns if they were included in the transaction. These assets and brands were carved out of the transaction in an effort to mitigate possible antitrust concerns that might be raised by the antitrust enforcement agencies. The DOJ launched an investigation regarding the proposed transaction, and on December 2, 2020, the parties received notice from the DOJ that their request for early termination of the HSR waiting period was granted. The transaction closed soon after the early termination notice was received.
- FTC Investigation of the Tri-Star Energy/Hollingsworth Oil Company Transaction. Represented Hollingsworth Oil Company, Inc. (HOC), and related parties in a merger investigation, which resulted in a negotiated consent order with the FTC to divest certain retail fuel assets that were part of a transaction between HOC and Tri Star Energy, LLC (Tri Star). The agreement — which was quickly facilitated during the COVID-19 pandemic — settled charges that the proposed acquisition of certain HOC fuel stations by Tri Star would violate federal antitrust law, as both parties operated fuel outlets and convenience stores in the central Tennessee area. According to the FTC's complaint, the acquisition of these assets by Tri Star would have harmed competition for both retail gasoline and diesel in the Whites Creek and Greenbriar, Tennessee, markets. Under the terms of the consent order, Tri Star divested its assets in these markets to Cox Oil Company, Inc., within 10 days after the completed acquisition.
- FTC Investigation of the NEXUS Gas Transmission/Generation Pipeline transaction. Represented Avista Capital Partners, LLC (a private equity investment firm), in the sale of Generation Pipeline LLC (a midstream natural gas company) to NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC. This transaction resulted in investigations by the FTC, which issued a “Second Request” for additional information relevant to the transaction, and by the Ohio Attorney General, which issued a similar Civil Investigative Demand. In response to these discovery requests, our clients produced thousands of documents and submitted other written materials showing that the transaction would not substantially lessen competition in the relevant area. After extensive discovery and negotiations with the FTC, the parties reached a consent agreement that included the removal of a non-compete clause from the purchase agreement. As a result of this consent agreement, the FTC withdrew its challenge to the transaction and the Commission voted unanimously to approve the deal in a decision issued on December 13, 2019.
Criminal Antitrust Cases/Investigations
- U.S. v. Neeraj Jindal: Representing a defendant in the first criminal wage-fixing case ever filed under Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The DOJ alleges that our client entered into a wage-fixing agreement with another competitor, and that this agreement constitutes a per se price-fixing violation. We have filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the basis that no court has ever classified wage fixing as a per se antitrust violation, and even if wage fixing is a per se violation, our client was not provided with fair warning that such an agreement could form the basis for a criminal violation. The case is set for trial on April 4, 2022, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
- Gypsum Drywall Criminal Investigation: Represented a large U.S. drywall manufacturer in connection with a federal grand jury antitrust investigation that was conducted by the DOJ. The investigation focused on price increases in the drywall industry during 2012 and 2013. The Grand Jury considering the evidence was in the Western District of North Carolina. We were informed in 2018 that the investigation as to our client has been closed.
- Water Treatment Chemicals Criminal Investigation: Represented a U.S. chemical company in connection with a federal grand jury antitrust investigation being conducted by the DOJ. The investigation focused on competitors that sell water treatment chemicals to municipalities and industrial users, such as paper mills, and whether those competitors had engaged in price fixing, bid rigging and/or customer allocation agreements. The Grand Jury considering the evidence was in the District of New Jersey. We were informed in 2019 that the investigation as to our client has been closed.
Civil Antitrust Investigations
- ARMA Information Exchange Investigation: Represented a manufacturer of asphalt roofing shingles in a civil investigation by the FTC involving an exchange of product shipping information among members of the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA). Our client was served with a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) in the investigation, and following negotiations with the FTC the investigation was closed in 2019.
- TrueCar Group Boycott Investigation: Represented a client who owns a group of Lexus automobile dealerships. The client was targeted in an investigation by the FTC regarding a possible concerted refusal to deal with a company that operates an online information platform for matching potential automobile purchasers with automobile sellers. The client was served with a CID in the investigation in May 2014 and responded by producing a large volume of documents. After protracted negotiations with the FTC, we were informed in June 2015 that the investigation directed at our client has been closed.
- Oil Industry Group Benchmarking Investigation: Represented one of the nation's largest energy companies in a six-year investigation by the FTC involving employee compensation “benchmarking” and information exchanges among the major U.S. oil companies. After several meetings and negotiations between the FTC and counsel for the oil companies, the investigation was officially closed by the FTC without bringing an action against any of the oil companies.