Eleven states and the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to prevent Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets. According to the complaint, Google accounted for almost 90 percent of all search queries in the United States. Google has entered into a series of…
Plaintiff state filed a civil lawsuit against Starkist, one of the world’s largest canned tuna manufacturers and the former CEO of Bumble Bee Foods, another large tuna manufacturer, over a price-fixing conspiracy that drove up the cost of packaged tuna for more than a decade. The suit alleged that StarKist Co., its parent company Dongwon,…
Forty plaintiff states reached a $68 million settlement with UBS for fraudulent conduct involving interest rate manipulation that had a significant impact on consumers and financial markets around the world. UBS’ fraudulent conduct involved the manipulation of LIBOR (the London Interbank Offered Rate). LIBOR is a benchmark interest rate that affects financial instruments worth trillions…
The brand name maker of the prescription drug Hytrin, Abbott, entered into an agreement with Geneva to keep Geneva’s generic version of Hytrin off the market. Geneva was paid a substantial amount of money by Abbott while Abbott continued to collect monopoly profits on its name brand drug. Because of federal regulatory system for new generic entry, Geneva effectively blocked the entry of other generic drug makers. The matter settled in conjunction with MDL litigation.
United States and North Carolina v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority d/b/a Carolinas Healthcare System
North Carolina and USDOJ filed suit alleging that Atrium Health, formerly known as Carolinas HealthCare System illegally reduced competition in the health care market in Charlotte and limited consumers’ ability to shop around for better deals on health care. Atrium is based in Charlotte and operates Carolinas Medical Center and nine other hospitals in the Charlotte area. It dominates the hospital market in the Charlotte region with a 50 percent share of the market and approximately $8.7 billion in annual revenues. The state alleged that Atrium acted unlawfully to preserve its dominance in the Charlotte health care market by using its market power to require steering restrictions in its contracts with every major insurer. These provisions have prevented insurers from, among other things, introducing health plans that encourage patients to use medical providers that offer lower priced, higher-quality services. The plaintiffs sought injunctive relief and attorneys fees. After the court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss, the parties settled. Under the terms of the settlement, Atrium is prohibited from using anticompetitive steering restrictions in contracts between commercial health insurers and its providers in the Charlotte, North Carolina metropolitan area. These steering restrictions prevented health insurers from promoting innovative health benefit plans and more cost-effective healthcare services to consumers.
United States and Michigan v. Hillsdale Community Health Center et al., No. 2:15-cv-12311 (E.D. Mich. June 25, 2015)
The United States and Michigan filed suit in federal court against four Michigan hospital systems, alleging that for years they unlawfully agreed to allocate territories for marketing. The complaint alleged Hillsdale, Allegiance, Branch and ProMedica’s Bixby and Herrick Hospitals, the only hospitals in their respective counties, each competed through marketing to attract patients, including advertising, direct mailings to patients, outreach to physicians and employers, conducting health fairs and offering free health screenings. The complaint alleges that Hillsdale curtailed this competition for years by entering into agreements with Allegiance, Branch and ProMedica to limit the marketing of competing healthcare services. Three of the systems, Hillsdale Community Health Center, Community Health Center of Branch County, Michigan, and ProMedica Health System Inc., agreed to settle the charges in 2015. The settlement prohibits Hillsdale, Branch and ProMedica from agreeing with other healthcare providers, including hospitals and physicians, to limit marketing or to divide any geographic market or territory, prohibits communications among the defendants about their marketing activities and requires the hospitals to implement compliance measures tailored to prevent the recurrence of these types of anticompetitive practices in the future. The parties paid $5,000 each to Michigan for costs and attorneys’ fees. W.A. Foote Memorial Hospital, doing business as Allegiance Health, settled in 2018. The Allegiance settlement expands on the terms of the previous settlements, specifically, the proposed settlement prevents Allegiance from engaging in improper communications with competing providers regarding their respective marketing activities and entering into any improper agreement to allocate customers or to limit marketing. It explicitly prevents Allegiance from continuing to carve out Hillsdale County from its marketing and business development activities. Allegiance must report any violations and must annually certify compliance with the terms of the final judgment. Allegiance must also submit to compliance inspections at the Department’s request. Allegiance must also pay $40,000 to the state and the US to reimburse costs.
Eighteen plaintiff states and the FTC challenged the merger of Dollar Tree, the largest chain of “dollar” stores (deep discount stores) and Family Dollar Stores, the nation’s third largest dollar store chain. The complaint claimed the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition in numerous markets by: (1) eliminating direct and substantial competition between Dollar Tree and Family Dollar; and (2) increasing the likelihood that Dollar Tree will unilaterally exercise market power. This, according to the complaint, would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act and each state’s applicable antitrust and consumer protection laws. The states sought a permanent injunction to prevent the merger, along with costs and attorney fees. The parties reached a settlement under which 330 stores in the 18 states would be divested to Sycamore partners and run as a new dollar store chain, Dollar Express. The agreement also required the defendants to report future acquisitions in any of the affected markets and to pay over $865,000 to reimburse the costs and fees of the plaintiff states.
Pennsylvania filed suit, alleging the proposed merger of two of the largest gasoline and distillate terminaling services in the state, ArcLight and Gulf Oil would violate both the Clayton Act and Pennsylvania state law by lessening competition in three markets, Altoona, Harrisburg and Scranton. The state sought injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees. The state and the parties entered into a settlement in which the defendants would agree to divest their terminal assets in Pennsylvania – located in Altoona, Pittston, Mechanicsburg and Williamsport – to New York-based Arc Logistics within 20 days of the acquisition being finalized. After the divestiture, ArcLight is further bound to assist Arc Logistics by providing transitional assistance at a reasonable cost for one year, serve as a customer of the divested terminals for two years and supply ethanol and biodiesel fuels and related terminaling services for five years. The settlement also allows any ArcLight petroleum terminal customer to sever its contract with the company without penalty or charge for six months after the divestiture date, and for ArcLight to provide them with notice of the right to do so. The FTC had previously entered into a settlement with the parties.
SCI, the nation’s largest funeral home chain, sought to acquire Stewart Enterprises, another large funeral home chain. Seven states and the FTC entered into consent agreements with SCI specifying which funeral homes would be divested in 59 separate markets. In a separate consent agreement, SCI agreed to provide the state plaintiffs with the same notices, requirements for approval and compliance review as to divestitures and future acquisitions included in the FTC’s consent decree and to pay the state’s costs and attorneys’ fees..
Renown Health acquired the largest two cardiology practices in the Reno Nevada area, leaving it with 88 percent of the cardiologists in the geographic market. The settlement required Renown Health to suspend its non-compete agreements with the cardiologists until at least six cardiologists have terminated their employment by Renown. Renown will provide the Attorney General with advance notice of future acquisitions, implement a compliance program, and pay $550,000 to the AG office for fees and costs. The FTC had a parallel proceeding with similar relief.