In the area of civil antitrust litigation, Locke Lord has represented defendants in some of the largest antitrust class action cases in the United States. We also have represented plaintiffs in seeking affirmative relief for anticompetitive conduct by suppliers, distributors and other competitors.
Our antitrust lawyers have litigated claims involving allegations of price fixing, market allocations, group boycotts, market rate/price manipulation, information exchanges and monopolization that were brought under the Sherman Act, Clayton Act, Robinson-Patman Act, California's Cartwright Act and a host of other state antitrust and unfair competition laws.
A sampling of these cases includes:
- In re RealPage, Inc. Rental Software Antitrust Litigation. Currently representing a defendant in class action antitrust litigation brought by apartment tenants who allege they were injured by a rent-fixing conspiracy involving many of the largest multifamily property owners and operators in the United States. The plaintiffs contend that a co-defendant, RealPage, provides revenue management software programs that use algorithms and artificial intelligence to suggest rental rates for apartment units. These software programs allegedly were used by the defendants to artificially inflate the rental rates for multifamily housing across the United States. The multidistrict litigation (MDL) matter was consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.
- In re Domestic Drywall Antitrust Litigation. Represented a defendant drywall manufacturer in class action price-fixing litigation arising out of an alleged conspiracy by U.S. drywall manufacturers to raise the prices of drywall. Included among the plaintiffs were two classes of direct and indirect purchasers of drywall, along with 12 large homebuilders that opted out of the class actions. The cases were consolidated in an MDL action pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
- In re Titanium Dioxide Antitrust Litigation. Represented a defendant titanium dioxide manufacturer in three separate price-fixing cases against the leading manufacturers of titanium dioxide in the United States. These cases were pending in the U.S. District Courts in Maryland, the Southern District of Texas and Northern District of California.
- In re Online Travel Company (OTC)/Hotel Booking Antitrust Litigation. Represented two affiliated online travel reservation companies 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 alleged that the defendants conspired to fix the rates for hotel rooms that are booked using online travel reservation websites. In 2014, the district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint and later entered a Final Judgment dismissing the case. The MDL litigation was consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
Market Rate/Price Manipulation Cases
- In re Western States Wholesale Natural Gas Antitrust Litigation. Represented two related natural gas companies in class action antitrust litigation arising out of the alleged manipulation of natural gas price indices by natural gas traders. The plaintiffs, which were retail purchasers of unregulated natural gas, alleged that our clients and other defendants conspired to manipulate the index prices of natural gas by delivering false reports concerning natural gas transaction information to the price index publishers, which conduct allegedly violated various state antitrust laws. This MDL litigation was pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
- In re LIBOR-Based Financial Instruments Antitrust Litigation. Currently representing two related international financial institutions in class action antitrust litigation against numerous banks and financial services companies. The plaintiffs, which include bondholders, lenders, OTC investors and exchange investors, allege that our clients and other international banks violated the antitrust laws by conspiring to manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and similar benchmarks for U.S. dollar currency. Numerous cases filed by different groups of plaintiffs have been consolidated for pre-trial purposes in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
- In re Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates Antitrust Litigation. Currently representing two related international financial institutions in class action antitrust litigation against numerous international banks and financial services companies. The plaintiffs, which include direct investors, indirect purchasers, ERISA beneficiaries and retail foreign currency buyers, allege that our clients and other defendants violated the antitrust laws by conspiring to manipulate the foreign exchange fixing rates and spreads. Over a dozen class action cases filed by different types of plaintiffs were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, while more than 1,300 opt-out plaintiffs also have filed their own related litigation.
Market Allocation Cases
- Love Terminal Partners v. City of Dallas, Texas. Represented the nation’s largest airline in an antitrust action that was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas by the leaseholders of land at Dallas Love Field Airport. 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 district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint and the action later was dismissed by the plaintiffs following an unsuccessful appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
- Wheeler v. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation. Represented plaintiff chicken farmers in a market allocation and price-fixing case against Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation and Tyson Foods. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants entered into “no-poach” agreements and conspired to allocate markets and lower prices paid for the services of chicken farmers in certain parts of Texas and bordering states. In a related suit, our clients alleged that Pilgrim’s Pride violated the Packers and Stockyards Act because its founder and former Chairman operated his own chicken farms under a more lucrative arrangement than the ones offered to other farmers. These cases were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and were settled on confidential terms following an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Group Boycott Cases
- Archer & White Sales, Inc. v. Henry Schein, Inc. Represented one of the nation’s largest distributors of dental products and supplies in antitrust litigation brought by another dental products distributor. The plaintiff alleged it was injured by a group boycott and price-fixing conspiracy involving our client and other dental equipment distributors and manufacturers. In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision, Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc., 586 U.S. ___ , 139 S. Ct. 524, 2019 WL 122164 (2019), which ruled in our client’s favor on the issue of whether the alleged claims were covered by a contractual arbitration agreement. The underlying case was pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
- AEG Petroleum LLC v. Western Marketing, Inc. Represented a petroleum products distributor and retailer that asserted numerous claims against a competitor, including a cause of action for violations of Texas antitrust laws. The antitrust claim related to an alleged agreement between the defendant and other petroleum products suppliers to boycott our client as a customer. Following an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, the case settled on confidential terms.
Information Exchange Cases
- In re Compensation of Managerial, Professional, and Technical (MPT) Employees Antitrust Litigation. Represented one of the nation’s largest oil companies in class action wage-fixing litigation against all of the major oil companies in the United States. 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 defeated the plaintiffs' two attempts at class certification, and following appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the case was settled. This MDL matter was consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
- Coventry First LLC v. Equitable Holdings, Inc. Currently representing Equitable Holdings and three subsidiaries in an action that originally was filed in a Texas state court and was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. The plaintiff is a life settlement provider that purchases term life insurance policies, converts them to universal life policies and then collects the death benefits when the insured dies. It has asserted antitrust claims against the defendants under Texas antitrust laws, alleging that the defendants are attempting to monopolize the market for the disposition of term life insurance policies issued by Equitable.
- Varsity Brands Antitrust Litigation. Currently representing the founder and former CEO of Varsity Spirit, Inc., and Varsity Brands, LLC, in two related antitrust class actions. In one class action filed by competitors of Varsity and parents of cheerleaders, the plaintiffs allege violations of Section 2 of the Sherman Act through the monopolization of the competitive cheerleading market. This case was dismissed with prejudice as a sanction for discovery violations committed by the plaintiffs and their counsel. In a separate class action filed by indirect purchasers of Varsity’s products and services, the plaintiffs allege violations of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act and more than 30 state antitrust and consumer protection laws, premised on allegations that Varsity monopolized the competitive cheerleading market. The cases are pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.
Robinson-Patman Act Cases
- Security Data Supply, LLC v. Nortek Security and Control LLC. Represented the plaintiff in a price discrimination case filed against a security equipment manufacturer for violations of the Robinson-Patman Act and other anticompetitive conduct with regard to the pricing for security equipment. The case, which was pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, was resolved favorably for our client when it entered into a confidential settlement with the defendants.