The Second Circuit recently set aside a $147 million verdict against two Chinese companies accused of conspiring to fix the price and supply of vitamin C sold to U.S. buyers. In re Vitamin C Antitrust Litigation. The panel held that the complaint should have been dismissed after the Chinese government submitted an amicus curiae brief confirming that Chinese law required the companies to fix prices and, in effect, violate U.S. antitrust law. The panel found that the companies could not simultaneously comply with U.S. and Chinese law and, drawing on principles of international comity, vacated the district court judgment. Continue Reading
In Baral v. Schnitt, the California Supreme Court addressed a question that has divided California appellate courts for more than a decade: whether a special motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP statute (C.C.P. 425.16) can be granted with respect to a “mixed cause of action” that combines allegations concerning both protected conduct, i.e., the rights of petition and free speech, and unprotected activity. Continue Reading
Last month, the Delaware Chancery Court drastically reduced – from $275,000 to $50,000 – a mootness fee award requested by plaintiffs’ counsel in a lawsuit challenging the merger between PayPal and Xoom Corporation, finding the supplemental disclosures that flowed from the lawsuit provided only minor benefits to stockholders. In re Xoom Corp. Stockholder Litigation. The steep fee reduction reinforces Trulia’s admonition earlier this year that the days of $250,000-$350,000 attorneys’ fee awards for meaningless additional disclosures are over, as Delaware judges will carefully scrutinize attorneys’ fee requests for litigation that yields disclosures of little or no value. Continue Reading
President Andrew Jackson is reported (likely inaccurately) to have flaunted a Supreme Court decision by retorting, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” Any litigant who has been on the receiving end of an unwanted court order may find this sentiment a familiar one. As a federal judge in Arizona recently reminded Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, however, refusal to comply with a court order in a civil lawsuit can be criminal. Neither Presidents nor Sheriffs are above the law when it comes to complying with a civil order, and other civil litigants would do well to remember the consequences of such disobedience. Continue Reading
Since 2008, cable customers have been suing cable operators across the country claiming operators violate the antitrust laws by forcing customers to lease set-top boxes from the operator to access “premium” cable services. Plaintiffs claim that the operators have “tied” one product (the service) to another product (the box) and that the arrangement is a per se violation of the antitrust laws (i.e., unlawful regardless of any alleged pro-competitive benefits).
In late August 2016, a Ninth Circuit panel unanimously held that the FTC has no power to challenge “throttling” of unlimited data plan customers by mobile broadband providers as an “unfair or deceptive act.” The panel found that a core source of FTC authority (Section 5 of the FTC Act) does not apply to any “common carriers” that are subject to regulation under the Communications Act of 1934. FTC v. AT&T Mobility LLC.
Critically, the panel found that the “common carrier” exception to section 5 applies based on the status of the entity as a regulated common carrier, not whether the particular activities at issue are regulated common carrier services. Given the FCC’s 2015 reclassification of all public broadband services (wired and mobile) as “common carrier” services, the decision potentially could be applied to exempt cable companies and other broadband providers (e.g., Google) from FTC Act section 5 enforcement actions for all of their services, not just those subject to the Open Internet Order.
As outlined in previous posts, the New York Commercial Division seeks to be a forward-thinking forum that adopts rule changes aimed at increasing efficiency and decreasing litigant costs. In August, a revised Model Preliminary Conference Order form was adopted for optional use by Division judges, even though the previous Preliminary Conference Order form had been approved only two years ago. The need for a revised form highlights the rapid changes in Commercial Division rules and the Division’s continuous efforts to stay up to date. The new form incorporates specific descriptions of many of the recently adopted rules and contains significant revisions to the sections governing pre-answer motion practice, document production, interrogatories, depositions, disclosure disputes, and e-discovery. This post discusses four of the more significant rule changes that are reflected in the new form.