The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
U.S. appeals court revives Libor-rigging claims against banks. A U.S. appeals court revived litigation accusing a slew of large banks of conspiring to rig the Libor interest rate benchmark, including during the 2008 financial crisis, to boost profits at investors’ expense and make the banks appear healthier than they were. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said a lower court judge had jurisdiction over antitrust claims by investors including Charles Schwab Corp that bought various Libor-based products from the banks, or bought Libor-based futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Without ruling on the merits, Circuit Judge Richard Sullivan said accusations that bank executives and managers in the United States were ordering the suppression of Libor provided jurisdiction under a conspiracy-based theory of liability. The appeals court adopted that theory after U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan had dismissed investor claims in 23 separate cases from the decade-old litigation.
Record Beef Prices, but Ranchers Aren’t Cashing In. Although Americans are consuming more beef than ever ranchers are not seeing the benefits of higher prices. The distress of American cattle ranchers represents the underside of the staggering winnings harvested by the conglomerates that dominate the meatpacking industry. Since the 1980s, the four largest meatpackers have used a wave of mergers to increase their share of the market from 36 percent to 85 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Their dominance has allowed them to extinguish competition and dictate prices, exploiting how federal authorities have weakened the enforcement of laws enacted a century ago to tame the excesses of the Robber Barons, say antitrust experts and advocates for the ranchers.
California ordered to pay $80K fee sanction in drug antitrust MDL. A Pennsylvania federal judge ordered California to pay nearly $80,000 in legal fees to Par Pharmaceutical Inc for failing to comply with discovery obligations in multidistrict litigation alleging a broad price-fixing conspiracy for generic drugs. In her court order, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe in Philadelphia called the attorneys’ fee award, sought by Par’s lawyers at Williams & Connolly, an “appropriate discovery sanction” for California’s “continued intransigence” in not abiding by obligations to turn over information. Rufe declined to block California from presenting evidence in the litigation, which Par had sought.
Edited by Gary J. Malone