Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation
by
John Fanning founded Jerk LLC (Jerk) and Jerk.com in 2009. From 2009 to 2014, Jerk operated Jerk.com. In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (Commission) filed an administrative complaint charging Jerk and Fanning with engaging in deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The Commission entered a summary decision finding Fanning personally liable for misrepresentations contained on Jerk.com. Fanning petitioned for review. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the Commission’s finding of liability and the recordkeeping provisions and order acknowledgement requirement of the Commission’s remedial order; but (2) vacated Fanning’s compliance monitoring provisions, holding that these provisions were overbroad and not reasonably related to Fanning’s violation. View "Fanning v. Fed. Trade Comm'n" on Justia Law

by
Flovac, Inc. and Airvac, Inc. both fabricate vacuum sewer systems. Flovac filed suit against Airvac seeking relief under both federal and Puerto Rico antitrust laws and alleging that Airvac’s conduct in marketing its vacuum sewer systems was anticompetitive. Flovac also brought claims of tortious interference with advantageous economic relations under Puerto Rico’s general tort statute. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Airvac on all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) because the summary judgment record disclosed a relevant market much broader than Flovac claimed and a market where Defendant lacked market dominance, summary judgment was properly granted on Flovac’s antitrust claims; and (2) Flovac’s claim of tortious interference with advantageous economic relations was time-barred. View "Flovac, Inc. v. Airvac, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Flovac, Inc. and Airvac, Inc. both fabricate vacuum sewer systems. Flovac filed suit against Airvac seeking relief under both federal and Puerto Rico antitrust laws and alleging that Airvac’s conduct in marketing its vacuum sewer systems was anticompetitive. Flovac also brought claims of tortious interference with advantageous economic relations under Puerto Rico’s general tort statute. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Airvac on all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) because the summary judgment record disclosed a relevant market much broader than Flovac claimed and a market where Defendant lacked market dominance, summary judgment was properly granted on Flovac’s antitrust claims; and (2) Flovac’s claim of tortious interference with advantageous economic relations was time-barred. View "Flovac, Inc. v. Airvac, Inc." on Justia Law

by
In 2004, five structural steel contractors filed a complaint against a local union - Labor Union No. 7 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers - alleging labor law violations under the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), antitrust law violations under the Sherman Act, and other violations under state law. The First Circuit reviewed the matter and found elements pertaining to the federal claims undeveloped. Therefore, the Court remanded for further proceedings. After a trial, the case once again reached the First Circuit, with both parties appealing and cross-appealing various aspects of the final judgment. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decisions upholding the LMRA jury verdict and award of damages for Plaintiffs D.F.M. Industries, Inc. and Ajax Construction Company, Inc. and granting summary judgment for Defendant on the antitrust claims, holding that the trial court did not err in its judgment. View "Am. Steel Erectors, Inc. v. Local Union No. 7" on Justia Law

by
AstraZeneca, which sells a heartburn drug called Nexium, and three generic drug companies (“generic defendants”) that sought to market generic forms of Nexium, entered into settlement agreements in which the generic defendants agreed not to challenge the validity of the Nexium patents and to delay the launch of their generic products. Certain union health and welfare funds that reimburse plan members for prescription drugs (the named plaintiffs) alleged that the settlement agreements constituted unlawful agreements between Nexium and the generic defendants not to compete. Plaintiffs sought class certification for a class of third-party payors, such as the named plaintiffs, and individual consumers. The district court certified a class. Relevant to this appeal, the class included individual consumers who would have continued to purchase branded Nexium for the same price after generic entry. The First Circuit affirmed the class certification, holding (1) class certification is permissible even if the class includes a de minimis number of uninjured parties; (2) the number of uninjured class members in this case was not significant enough to justify denial of certification; and (3) only injured class members will recover. View "In re Nexium Antitrust Litig." on Justia Law

by
When Appellant, a resident of the Pondview Condominiums, did not pay his condominium fees on time, the condominium trustees hired law firm Marcus, Errico, Emmer and Brooks, P.C. (“MEEB”) to collect Appellant’s debt. MEEB filed nine collection actions in Massachusetts state court against Appellant and prevailed in two of them. Displeased with MEEB’s collection activities, Appellant sued MEEB in federal district court, alleging violations of federal and state law. The magistrate judge concluded that MEEB committed numerous violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and that the FDCPA violations constituted “per se” violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A. Upon reconsideration, the magistrate judge reversed in part, finding MEEB not liable under Chapter 93A. The First Circuit reversed the magistrate judge’s determination that MEEB was not liable under Chapter 93A, holding that MEEB’s violations of the FDCPA constituted per se Chapter 93A violations by virtue of the unambiguous statutory language in the FDCPA and the Federal Trade Commission Act. View "McDermott v. Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks" on Justia Law

by
Dragon Systems, Inc. (Dragon), a voice recognition software company that faced a deteriorating financial situation, hired Goldman Sachs (Goldman) to provide financial advice and assistance in connection with a possible merger. In 2000, Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products N.V. (Lernout & Hauspie) acquired Dragon. When it was discovered that Lernout & Hauspie had fraudulently overstated its earnings, the merged company filed for bankruptcy, and the Dragon name and technology were sold from the estate. Plaintiffs, two groups of Dragon shareholders, filed suit against Goldman, alleging negligent and intentional misrepresentation, negligence, gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A. A jury found in favor of Goldman on Plaintiffs’ common law claims, and district court found that Goldman had not violated chapter 93A. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly articulated the legal standard applicable to Plaintiffs’ chapter 93A claims and correctly applied that standard to its factual findings; and (2) Plaintiffs’ arguments that they were entitled to a new trial on their common law claims because of evidentiary errors and erroneous jury instructions were without merit. View "Baker v. Goldman, Sachs & Co." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff refinanced his residential home mortgage, taking out a loan secured by his home. The mortgage listed Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) as the mortgagee of record. MERS subsequently transferred the mortgage. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. as Trustee for RMAC Pass-Through Trust, eventually obtained the mortgage. After Wells Fargo sold Serra’s property at foreclosure, Serra brought suit in Massachusetts state court asserting, among other claims, claims for wrongful foreclosure and unfair or deceptive business practices based on his theory that MERS lacked the authority to transfer his mortgage. Serra’s suit was removed on the basis of diversity, and summary judgment as to all claims was entered against Serra. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) under Massachusetts law, MERS may validly possess and transfer a legal interest in a mortgage; (2) subsequent mortgage assignees cannot incur liability for the allegedly predatory practices of their predecessor-in-interest; and (3) Plaintiff’s argument that his right to rescission was improperly cut short by the sale of his property was without merit. View "Serra v. Quantum Servicing Corp." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint against polystyrene food service packaging manufacturers and two trade associations, claiming that Defendants refused in concert to deal with Plaintiff in a recycling business method for polystyrene food service products. In its complaint, Plaintiff alleged violations of section 1 of the Sherman Act and the Massachusetts Fair Business Practices Act (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A). The district court granted Defendants' motions to dismiss and entered judgment in their favor, finding that, as in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, there were legitimate business reasons that could explain Defendants' refusal to deal with Plaintiff or to compete with each other for market share. The First Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded, holding (1) Plaintiff alleged sufficient facts to adequately plead its Sherman Act claim; and (2) because the district court summarily dismissed Plaintiff's chapter 93 claim because it failed for the same reasons that its Sherman Act claim failed, the issue needed to be reconsidered. View "Evergreen Partnering Group, Inc. v. Pactiv Corp." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff was a company that sold aviation fuel at a Puerto Rico airport. Plaintiff filed this action Defendants, the Puerto Rico Ports Authority (PRPA), Airport Aviation Services (AAS), and employees of those entities, claiming that Defendants wrongfully interfered with its business. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that a corrupt relationship existed between AAS and PRPA and that Defendants took improper actions in order to drive Plaintiff out of business. Before trial, the district court dismissed the claims against some defendants and, after a bench trial, granted judgment for the remaining defendants. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff did not indicate a sufficiently clear intent to appeal the judgments dismissing the PRPA defendants from the case; and (2) the district court did not err in finding no conspiracy on the part of AAS and its employees to restrain trade, and the court correctly concluded that Plaintiff failed to proffer evidence to prove Defendants' actions were unreasonable or anticompetitive. View "Diaz Aviation Corp. v. Airport Aviation Servs., Inc." on Justia Law