Following guilty pleas to criminal price-fixing by several LCD manufacturers, and a conviction after trial of another, Oregon filed suit against LCD manufacturers, alleging that top executives of several companies held numerous secret meetings from at least 1999 through at least 2006 for the purpose of exchanging information and setting prices on LCD panels. According to the complaint, companies such as Dell, Apple, and Hewlett Packard were among those targeted by the manufacturers’ price-fixing scheme. According to the lawsuit, the illegal overcharges were ultimately borne by state consumers and state government purchasers. The suit also alleges fraudulent concealment of the conspiracy. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, civil penalties and injunctive relief under the Sherman Act and state antitrust statutes. A number of states filed in the MDL, but Oregon filed originally in federal district court in Oregon, and was transferred, with its consent, to the MDL. Oregon reached individual settlements with many defendants, totaling $21 million (Hitachi Displays, $565,000; Chi Mai, $1,634,600; Epson, $105,000; LG Display, $6,975,000; Sharp, $1,950,000; Samsung, $4.5 million; AU Optronics, $4.25 million; Toshiba, $525,000; HannStar, $1 million)
State alleged that defendant, responding to requests from eye care professionals to limit competition from discounters, implemented a resale price maintenance policy, which fixed minimum retail prices for all retail sellers of Johnson & Johnson contact lenses. After objections from Costco, a large discount retailer, defendant revised its policy. Under Maryland law, although not federal law, an agreement establishing a minimum retail price is an unreasonable restraint of trade and per se illegal. The parties entered into an Assurance of Discontinuance under which Johnson & Johnson permanently discontinued the RPM agreements alleged and agreed to pay $50,000 in civil penalties.
People of the State of New York v. Actavis, PLC et al., No. 14-CV-7473 (RWS)(S.D.N.Y filed Dec. 10, 2014)
Plaintiff state sued pharmaceutical manufacturer Actavis plc and its New-York based subsidiary Forest Laboratories seeking an injunction to prevent them from withdrawing the Alzheimer’s drug Namenda from the market and switching patients to a once daily version, Namenda XR. Namenda’s patent will expire in July 2015 and the company thereafter faces competition from generic drug makers. According to the complaint, Actavis planned to force patients to switch unnecessarily to Namenda XR because it had a longer patent. Once patients switch to Namenda XR, it would be difficult for patients to switch drugs again once generics become available. Normally, state substitution laws allow pharmacists to dispense generics without being forced to obtain physician approval. According to the complaint, even though Namenda and Namenda XR have the same active ingredient, pharmacists will not be allowed to offer generic Namenda to patients taking Namenda XR; a doctor’s approval would be required to make that switch. This means that most Alzheimer’s patients and their families will remain on Namenda XR. The lawsuit alleges that, by forcing patients to switch to Namenda XR, Actavis is gaming the regulatory system that governs pharmaceuticals and violating antitrust laws designed to encourage competition and keep prices down for consumers. In December 2014, the district court enjoined Actavis from ceasing production of Namenda, and the injunction was affirmed by the Second Circuit in May 2015.
Plaintiff state alleged that Benco, a dental supply company, and its competitors worked together to thwart the entry of a lower cost, online source of dental supplies provided by the Texas Dental Association. The State alleged that Benco 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. The State’s agreement with Benco requires Benco not to participate in such anticompetitive activities in the future and institutes an antitrust training program for the company. Benco has also agreed to pay $300,000 to reimburse the Attorney General for investigative costs and attorneys’ fees in lieu of any civil penalty.
The FTC and states alleged that the companies had entered into a “pay-for-delay” arrangement, whereby Perrigo paid Alpharma to withdraw its generic version from the market for Children’t ibuprofen.According to the complaint, in June 1998, Perrigo and Alpharma signed an agreement allocating to Perrigo the sale of OTC children’s liquid ibuprofen for seven years. In exchange for agreeing not to compete, Alpharma received an up-front payment and a royalty on Perrigo’s sales of children’s liquid ibuprofen. The FTC received $6.25 million to compensate injured consumers. The states received $1.5 million in lieu of civil penalties. the parties were enjoined from future agreements.
Plaintiff state alleged that the town of Southbury in October 2011 decided to put its snow removal contract out to bid, rather than offering it to the defendants without competition. According to the complaint, the defendants colluded and jointly refused to deal with the town and plow for the fast approaching nor’easter unless they were given a guaranteed minimum contract for a larger portion of that winter season. In the face of this threat, and with the impending storm posing a potential threat to public safety, the town agreed. The town later put out a bid for the remainder of its snow removal work for the 2011-to-2012 winter season. According to the complaint, the defendants again colluded and entered into a conspiracy with one another designed to eliminate competition among them and substantially raise the prices they received for snowplowing services from the town. Under the settlement agreement, the three corporate defendants will pay the state $30,000 each in civil penalties. The three companies will also provide the town of Southbury with snow removal services at the original rate prior to the conspiracy for a period of three years that will be applied retroactively beginning with the 2013-2014 winter season. In addition to paying civil penalties and providing reduced-rate services to the town of Southbury, each company will establish an antitrust and competition training program that will be provided to the Office of Attorney General for its review on an annual basis.
Hawaii v. American International Group (AIG) Inc., No. 08-1-0191-01 (Haw. Cir. Ct. 1st. Dist. Jan. 29, 2008)
State court proceedings to implement settlement reached with AIG, resolving alleged bid-rigging and false insurance quotes, as well as payment of secret “contingent commissions” to brokers. See also NY v. AIG, Ohio v. AIG, Hawaii v. ACE Holdings.
After Hitachi-LG Data Storage, Inc. was charged with a 15-count felony charge by the United States Department of Justice, pleaded guilty to bid-rigging and price-fixing of Optical Disc Drives (ODDs) and paid a $21.1 million criminal fine, Florida filed suit. The suit alleged that Hitachi-LG Data Storage, Inc. and its subsidiary, Hitachi-LG Data Storage Korea, Inc., participated in meetings, discussions, and communications to share competitively sensitive information, in order to rig bids for ODDs sold to Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, and Microsoft Corporation. The state is seeking equitable relief, damages, and civil penalties for Florida consumers, businesses, and governmental entities.
Defendant Tradition was a broker of guaranteed investment contracts (GICs), which are used to temporarily invest the proceeds of municipal bond issues. Tradition conducted the bidding process among banks that sought to sell GICs to the Commonwealth, and certified to the State that the bidding process was competitive and that the winning bid would be the GIC that provided the highest yield. The state alleged that Tradition created a rigged and corrupt bidding process by telling favored providers what other banks were bidding and also telling the favored providers exactly what to bid in order to win the business. This resulted in bids that offered Massachusetts less interest than it would have gotten if the bidding process had really been competitive. By fixing the bids, Tradition ensured that these favored providers would get business from the Commonwealth while also shortchanging Massachusetts. The state also alleged that Tradition told favored providers who had already indicated that they intended to offer certain high interest rates that these providers should offer less money to the Commonwealth. The complaint also alleged that Tradition repeatedly deceived the Commonwealth, provided false certifications regarding the bidding process. The parties reached a settlement under Tradition will pay $250,000 to Massachusetts. The settlement also includes a provision to track an ongoing investment obtained through the tainted bidding process to determine whether Tradition owes additional money to the state.
The state and USDOJ filed a joint complaint alleging violations of the Sherman and Clayton Acts as well as the Donnelly Act and New York Executive Law. The complaint alleged that the parties had entered into an illegal joint venture which created a monopoly in the “hop-on, hop-off” bus tours in New York City. The settlement reached by the parties requires the defendants to relinquish approximately fifty bus stops across Manhattan controlled by City Sightsand to disgorge $7.5 million in profits they obtained from the operation of their illegal joint venture, and as a result of their several year effort to forestall antitrust enforcement. The New York Attorney General and the United States determined that disgorgement was particularly appropriate on the facts of this case, a consummated merger involving an anticompetitive price increase and deliberate attempts to evade antitrust enforcement.