In the Matter of Invesigation of Hornblower Group, Inc., AOD no. 19-103

An attorney general’s investigation of the dining cruise market in New York Harbor indicated that Hornblower Group, Inc. had obtained dominance in New York City’s dining cruise market through its acquisition of Entertainment Cruises. The investigation also confirmed that while other already-existing dining cruise operators wished to expand their operations into New York City, they…

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California ex rel. Becerra v. Sutter Health, No. 18-565398

State sued Sutter Health, the largest hospital system in northern California, alleging that Sutter engaged in anticompetitive behavior in violation of the Cartwright Act by 1) establishing, increasing and maintaining Sutter’s power to control prices and exclude competition; 2) foreclosing price competition by Sutter’s competitors; and 3) enabling Sutter to impose prices for hospital healthcare services and ancillary products that far exceed the prices it would have been able to charge in an unconstrained, competitive market. The complaint alleges that Sutter did this by: Preventing insurance companies from negotiating with it on anything other than “all or nothing†system-wide basis, requiring health insurers under the terms of contract with Sutter Health to negotiate with all the Sutter Health system or face termination of their contract; Preventing insurance companies from giving consumers more low-cost health plan options, for example, charging a $200 out-of-pocket cost for an outpatient surgery performed by a facility outside of the preferred group and $100 for outpatient surgery performed by a facility inside the preferred group; Setting excessively high out-of-network rates for patients who must seek care outside of their provider network; Restricting publication of provider cost information and rates. The complaint alleged three causes of action under the Cartwright Act: price tampering and fixing; unreasonable restraint of trade; and combination to monopolize. The state sought injunctive relief, disgorgement and attroneys fees.

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FTC and Plaintiff States (CA and DC) v. Draft Kings, No. 17-cv-01195 (D.D.C. 2017)

States and the FTC sued to block the merger of the two largest daily fantasy sports sites, alleging that the combined firm would control more than 90 percent of the US market for paid daily fantasy sports contests. Plaintiff states and the FTC allege that the defendants compete with each other on price and quality.

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The State of California, et al. v. Samsung SDI, Co., Ltd., et al., Case No. CGC-11-515784, Calif. Superior Court, San Fran. Cty. Nov. 8, 2011

California sued makers of CRTs alleging they were part of a price-fixing scheme that resulted in overcharges in the price of products that contained CRTs, such as televisions and computer monitors. The alleged price fixing scheme occurred between March 1, 1995 and November 25, 2007. According to the complaint, the conspiracy involved top-level meetings of key executive decision-makers in Asia and Europe to set prices and outputs of CRTs. It also involved worldwide meetings among lower-level executives to exchange confidential information. The settlements, which were filed in San Francisco Superior Court, require all five companies to pay a total of $4.95 million to settle claims of overcharges paid by California government entities, general damages suffered by the State’s economy, and civil penalties. The settlements require that the companies pay back the illegally obtained profits to those affected by their actions. In addition, the settlements include injunctive relief, which requires that each company engage in company-wide antitrust compliance training and reporting that involves products in addition to CRTs and extends to foreign companies and subsidiaries. Finally, the settlements include requirements, enforceable by the court via fines and imprisonment, to prevent future violations of antitrust law. There was a parallel class action by indirect purchasers nationwide that was brought in federal court by private parties. The state worked with the private plaintiffs and a settlement agreement was reached, under which California consumers recovered damages.

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Florida v. General Chemical Corp. No. 2:17-00384 (D.N.J. Jan. 19, 2017)

Plaintiff state filed action in federal court alleging market allocation and price-fixing among manufacturers of the chemical liquid aluminum sulfate, which is a coagulant used to remove impurities and other substances from water. It is used primarily by municipalities in wastewater treatment. There are high barriers to entry and substitution is difficult. There have been several USDOJ indictments in the industry. The complaint alleged that the defendants conspired to circumvent competitive bidding and independent pricing and to raise liquid aluminum sulfate prices by submitting artificially inflated bids in Florida from 1997 through at least February 2012. The state alleged that fraudulent concealment of the conspiracy tolled the statute of limitations.

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FTC and Plaintiff States v. Mallilnckrodt Ard Inc. (formerly Questcor), No. 1:17-cv-00120 (D.D.C. Jan. 18, 2017)

Four states and the FTC reached a $100 million settlement with Mallinckrodt plc and its US subsidiary, formerly known as Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. resolving a lawsuit accusing Questcor of monopolizing the market for Achthar, the only adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) based therapeutic drug sold in the United States. ACTH is used as a last resort to treat infantile spasms and multiple sclerosis. Questcor allegedly blocked competition for Acthar by disrupting the bidding process and acquiring the U.S. rights for Synacthen Depot, the only other ACTH based drug sold in the world. In 2001, Questcor bought the rights to Acthar and increased the price of it by 85,000 percent, charging over $34,000 for a vial of the drug that used to cost $40 per vial. In 2012, Novartis Pharma A.G sold the U.S. rights of Synacthen, Achthar’s only competitor. The complaint alleges that three other companies had all conducted due diligence and submitted formal offers for Synacthen with plans to develop and launch Synacthen in the United States in direct competition with Questcor. However, perceiving the threat to its U.S. monopoly if a rival drug company purchased the assets, Questcor stepped in to outbid the three other companies, offering Novartis $135 million in guaranteed payments with only vague plans for Synacthen and after very limited due diligence. Through the acquisition, Questcor sought to extinguish the most likely challenges to its Acthar monopoly. According to the complaint, this allowed Questcor to continue charging over $34,000 per vial for H.P. Acthar Gel. In addition to paying $100 million in disgorgement, Under the settlement, Mallinckrodt will pay $100 million. The company will also be required to license a competitor to the rights it acquired from Novartis to commercialize and develop Synacthen in the United States, including the Synacthen trademark, along with clinical trial data and certain intellectual property related to manufacturing and formulation. Mallinckrodt is also prohibited from taking actions that would interfere with clinical trials or clinical plans for Synacthen.

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California v. Panasonic Corporation, No. 2:16-cv-14117 (E.D. Mich. Nov. 21, 2016)

California sued Panasonic Corp. and its U.S. arm in Michigan federal court, alleging that the electronics company conspired to fix prices of switches and other car parts. The state alleged that from at least July 1998 to February 2010, the electronics company conspired with other companies to fix prices for various switches in vehicles, high-intensity-discharge lamp ballasts and steering angle censors, resulting in increased costs for state agencies purchasing cars and parts, along with increased costs for the state�s consumers. The complaint charged the companies with violations of both federal and California antitrust laws, unfair competition and unjust enrichment, and alleged that the deadweight losses to the economy of the state, including reduced output, higher prices and reduction in consumer welfare. The complaint was filed to effectuate a settlement between California and Florida and Panasonic that had been reached in 2015. California received $350,000 and Florida received $187,500 and Panasonic provided the states with all documents and information from the investigations by USDOJ, the EU and Japan and documents provided to class counsel in the multidistrict litigation.

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Connecticut et al. v. Aurobindo Pharma et al. Civ. Action No. (D.Conn. Dec. 15, 2016)

Twenty states filed a federal lawsuit against six generic drug manufacturers, alleging that they entered into long-running and well coordinated illegal conspiracies in order to unreasonably restrain trade, artificially inflate and manipulate prices and reduce competition in the United States for two drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic, and glyburide, an oral diabetes medication. The lawsuit was filed under seal to avoid compromising a continuing investigation. In the complaint, the states allege that the misconduct was conceived and carried out by senior drug company executives and their marketing and sales executives. The complaint further alleges that the defendants routinely coordinated their schemes through direct interaction with their competitors at industry trade shows, customer conferences and other events, as well as through direct email, phone and text message communications. The states further allege that the drug companies knew that their conduct was illegal and made efforts to avoid communicating with each other in writing or, in some instances, to delete written communications after becoming aware of the investigation. The states allege the anticompetitive conduct, including price-fixing and price maintenance, market allocation and other anticompetitive acts, caused significant, harmful and continuing effects in the country’s healthcare system. The states sought an injunction to prevent the companies from engaging in illegal, anticompetitive behavior and also sought equitable relief, including disgorgement. An additional 20 states joined the complaint in March 2017.

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Massachusetts et al. v. Koninklijke Ahold N.V., No. 1:16-cv-01412 (D.D.C., July 25, 2016)

Plaintiff states and FTC filed suit challenging the merger of Ahold and Delhaize, supermarket chains operating in the United States as Stop & Shop and Hannafords. According to the complaint, supermarkets operated by Ahold and Delhaize compete closely for shoppers based on price, format, service, product offerings, promotional activity, and location. Without a remedy, the merger would eliminate direct supermarket competition to the detriment of consumers in these local markets. As a result, the merger would increase the likelihood that the combined company could unilaterally exercise market power, and that the remaining competitors could coordinate their behavior to raise prices. the parties agreed to divest 76 supermarkets in the plaintiff states. The settlement also required prior notification of future supermarket purchases and $300,000 in attorneys fees and costs.

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United States et al. v. Aetna et. al., No. 1:16-cv-01494 (D.D.C. July 21, 2016)

U.S. DOJ and plaintiff states sued to block the merger of two of the country’s largest health insurers. According to the complaint, alleges that their merger would substantially reduce Medicare Advantage competition in more than 350 counties in 21 states, affecting more than 1.5 million Medicare Advantage customers in those counties. Before seeking to acquire Humana, Aetna had pursued aggressive expansion in Medicare Advantage. Aetna, the nation’s fourth-largest Medicare Advantage insurer by membership, has nearly doubled its Medicare Advantage footprint over the past four years. Humana is the nation’s second-largest Medicare Advantage insurer by membership. The lawsuit also alleges that Aetna’s purchase of Humana would substantially reduce competition to sell commercial health insurance to individuals and families on the public exchanges in 17 counties in Florida, Georgia and Missouri, affecting more than 700,000 people in those counties. The lawsuit alleges that by buying Humana, Aetna would eliminate one of its strongest and most capable competitors in these markets. The district court granted the injunction, rejecting the parties arguments that the Medicare Advantage and Medicare programs were competing products that constrained one another’s prices, and noting that Aetna’s exit from several markets, allegedly because of the Affordable Care Act, appeared to be designed to eliminate a problem with the merger, rather than being an unrelated business decision.

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