Texas v. Henry Schein, Inc., No. D-1-GN-17-003749, (Travis.Cty. Dist. Ct., 261st Judicial Dist. Aug. 3, 2017)

Plaintiff state reached a settlement with dental supply company concerning an illegal group boycott in the dental supply market. The settlement prohibits Henry Schein Dental from engaging in similar unlawful conduct. Texas settled a similar suit with Benco Dental Supply Company in 2015. The state’s antitrust action stemmed from a three-year investigation into allegations that Schein and two of its competitors worked together to thwart the entry of a lower-cost, online source of dental supplies provided by the Texas Dental Association (TDA). The state alleged that Schein and others colluded to discourage distributors and manufacturers from working with the TDA and its business partner, and agreed not to attend the TDA’s annual trade show in 2014.Under the settlement, Henry Schein Dental is prohibited from participating in anticompetitive activities in the future and must institute additional antitrust training for the company. Schein will pay $300,000 to reimburse the state for investigative costs and attorneys’ fees.

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In the Matter of Nantucket Ass’n of Real Estate Brokers (Assurance of Voluntary Discontinuance)

Massachusetts attorney general alleged that the membership requirements for the Nantucket Association of Real Estate Brokers, Inc. (“NAREB”) unfairly excluded competitors from the Nantucket real estate brokerage market. The AG’s Office alleged that some of the requirements for brokers, including having a physical office on the island, a community involvement requirement (which the attorney general characterized as potentially pretextual) and high initiation fees, excluded competitors from the Nantucket real estate brokerage market. The attorney general alleged that NAREB controlled a multiple listing service that lists the vast majority of real estate listings on Nantucket. Without
this listing service, to which full members of NAREB have access, a broker was effectively excluded from competing. The agreement with NAREBrequired NAREB to allow brokers without a physical office on Nantucket to join the association if certain requirements regarding showing properties are met. NAREB also reduced the initiation fee for new members from $5,000 to $500, and eliminated the community involvement requirement for membership. In addition, NAREB paid $5000 in costs of the investigation.

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State of Wisconsin et al. v. Indivior, No. 16-5073 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 22,2016)

Plaintiff states alleged that the makers of Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, engaged in a scheme to block generic competitors and raise prices. Specifically, they are conspiring to wtich Suboxone from a tablet version to a flim in order to prevent or delay generic entry. The states allege that the manufacturers engaged in “product hopping” in which a company makes slight changes to its product to extend patent protections and prvent generic alternatives. The complaint was filed under seal.

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In the Matter of NFL Ticketing Investigation, Assurance No. 16-181(NY Attorney General Antitrust Bureau (Nov. 15, 2016)

Plaintiff states entered into a settlement agreement with the National Football League under which the NFL would discontinue its league-wide mandatory price floor (no tickets could be sold on the NFL secondary market platform for a price less than a season ticket holder’s price) and would not direct or require ticketing practices designed to preclude fans from using competing ticket exchanges.

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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Geisinger Health System Foundation et al., No. 4:CV-12-1081 (M.D. Pa.

State alleged that the the acquisition of Bloomsburg Hospital by Geisinger Heath System Foundation may substantially lessen or eliminate competition in the region. Geisinger is a non-profit parent of four hospitals, including its flagship Geisinger Medical Center which is located only 10 miles from Bloomsburg Hospital. It also owns the Geisinger Clinic, a multi-specialty physician group practice with more than 900 primary care and specialty physicians and the Geisinger Heath Plan. Geisinger is one of the largest providers of inpatient acute-care hospital services in northeastern Pennsylvania. The state was concerned that Geisinger would be able to raise prices for hospital and physician services to Columbia County residents and their health plans. The parties reached a settlement under which Geisinger agreed to continue to operate Bloomsburg Hospital as an acute care hospital for eight years, six years longer than the term agreed to by the parties. The agreement also requires that all physicans with privileges at Bloomsburg Hospital will keep their privileges. The original merger agreement with the Bloomsburg Board only protected certain physicians. Geisinger also agreed to negotiate and contract with health plans for Bloomsburg Hospital separately from Geisinger Medical Center. Bloomsburg Hospital historically had lower rates than Geisinger Medical Center. By contracting separately, Bloomsburg’s rates will be comparable to other community hospitals, not a large tertiary hospital like Geisinger.

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In re GE Funding Capital Market Services, Inc. (Municipal Bond Derivatives)

Starting in 2008, the states investigated the municipal bond derivatives market, where tax exempt entities like governments and nonprofit organizations issue bonds and reinvest the proceeds until the funds are needed or enter into contracts to hedge interest rate risk on bonds. GE Funding is the fifth financial institution to settle with the multistate working group in the ongoing municipal bond derivatives investigation following Bank of America, UBS AG, JP Morgan and Wachovia.
The investigation revealed conspiratorial and fraudulent conduct involving individuals at financial institutions and certain brokers with whom they had working relationships. The states’ investigation developed evidence that certain traders at GE Funding, in concert with certain brokers, engaged in conduct that allowed the broker to determine in advance that GE Funding would win a bid for a guaranteed investment contract. The conduct allowed GE Funding to submit a “last look’’ bid, while the broker arranged for other financial institutions to submit purposely non-winning courtesy bids. Because of the “last look,” on many occasions GE Funding was able to lower its bid to the issuer and still win the transaction.The misconduct led state and local entities, such as municipalities, counties, school districts and other government agencies, as well as nonprofits, to enter into municipal derivatives contracts on less advantageous terms than they would have otherwise.

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In re J.P. Morgan Chase (Municipal Bond Derivatives)

Starting in 2008, the states investigated the municipal bond derivatives market, where tax exempt entities like governments and nonprofit organizations issue bonds and reinvest the proceeds until the funds are needed or enter into contracts to hedge interest rate risk on bonds.
The investigation revealed conspiratorial and fraudulent conduct involving individuals at JPMC, other financial institutions, and certain brokers with whom they had working relationships. The states alleged that certain JPMC employees and their counterparts at other institutions rigged bids, submitted noncompetitive courtesy bids and fraudulent certificates of arms-length bidding to government agencies. The misconduct led state and local entities, such as municipalities, counties, school districts and other government agencies, as well as nonprofits, to enter into municipal derivatives contracts on less advantageous terms than they would have otherwise. The $66.5 million multistate settlement is one component of a coordinated settlements (totaling $92 million) between JPMC and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Internal Revenue Service, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), as well as the states.

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State ex rel. Cooper v. McBarnette, No. 10 CV 020647 (N.C. Super Ct. Wake County, Dec. 21. 2010)

State sued defendant and his company for agreeing not to bid at auctions of foreclosed properties, after being paid by other bidders. Defendant was enjoined from further participation in real estate auctions, paid fines to the state and restitution to the property owners.

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U.S. and Michigan v Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, 10-14155-DPH (E.D.Mich. 2013).

USDOJ and plaintiff state challenged the use by Blue Cross/BlueShield of Michigan of Most Favored Nation clauses, alleging that their power in the market, combined with these clauses, violated state and federal antitrust law by stifling competition, leading to higher costs, and preventing new entry into the market. After the state legislature enacted a statute prohibiting health insurers from using most-favored-nation clauses in contracts with health care providers, USDOJ and Michigan dismissed the case.

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United States, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan v. Dean Foods, Co. No. 10-C-0059 (E.D. Wisc. 2010)

States and USDOJ challenged already consummated acquisition by Dean Foods Co of Foremost Farms USA. Complaint alleged loss of competition in two markets: School milk contracts in Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan, and fluid milk sales in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, because Dean and Foremost were the first and fourth largest sellers in those states. The settlement requires Dean to divest a significant milk processing plant in Waukesha, Wis., and related assets that it acquired from the Foremost Farms USA Cooperative, including the Golden Guernsey brand name. The settlement also requires that Dean notify USDOJ before it makes any future acquisition of milk processing plants for which the purchase price is more than $3 million. In addition, the attorney general for the state of Michigan filed a separate settlement which required Dean Foods to continue to bid on school milk contracts in the Upper Peninsula until 2016, and required that their bid be based either on a Cap Price which varies based on the price of raw milk, or a set price that does not vary.

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