Partner Carl Hittinger and Associate Tyson Herrold authored an article published on April 12, 2019, by Temple University’s business law publication, The Temple 10-Q. The article, “Judge Dolores K. Sloviter’s Antitrust Legacy,” discusses the significant antitrust contributions of former Chief Judge of the Third Circuit Sloviter, from her days as an antitrust lawyer to her rulings in the Third Circuit, including her landmark en banc decision in LePage’s Inc. v. 3M.
Partner Carl Hittinger, the Antitrust and Competition team leader, and Associate Jeanne-Michele Mariani authored an article published in the March 29, 2019, issue of The Legal Intelligencer. The article, “The NCAA, Which Is Tied to Education, May Be a Necessary Monopoly,” discusses a recent successful challenge made to the NCAA’s governing policies on antitrust grounds. That ruling, now on appeal, upheld the plaintiffs’ argument that the NCAA has a monopoly on the college athletic market and has misused it.
Hittinger and Mariani discuss the potential inequities of permitting player compensation and some of the scenarios that could arise and conclude: “The verdict is still out as to whether a drastic change is necessary or even better, but if the status quo of at least the operation of [Division 1] sports is optimal, then it may be that the NCAA’s monopoly presence remains necessary.”
Partner Carl Hittinger and Counsel Julian Perlman authored an article published March 1, 2019, by The Legal Intelligencer. The article, “Circuit Judge Thomas Vanaskie’s Antitrust Legacy: 2 Significant Cases,” examines opinions issued by recently retired Third Circuit and former MDPA Chief Judge Vanaskie. The article discusses Vanaskie’s thorough and fair-minded opinions in the epic antitrust dispute between competitors Santana Products and Bobrick Washroom Equipment in the late 1990s through the early 2000s (in which Carl Hittinger was lead counsel for Bobrick). Hittinger and Perlman also consider Vanaskie’s decisions in a precedential antitrust class action dispute involving the adhesive label industry. Both cases serve as role models for other judges to follow.
Since at least 2017, when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sued to block a vertical merger, the business press has been atwitter about the antitrust enforcement agencies’ views of such mergers, as we covered here.
Partner Carl Hittinger and Associate Jeanne-Michele Mariani authored an article published by The Legal Intelligencer on Nov. 30, 2018. The article, “Price Hikes and Spikes and the Antitrust Laws,” uses the well-known example of “Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli and his company’s abrupt price hike for Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill to consider whether such price jumps should be necessarily considered antitrust violations.
Partner Carl Hittinger and Associate Jeanne-Michele Mariani authored an article published Oct. 26, 2018, by The Legal Intelligencer. The article, “Justice Kavanaugh’s Antitrust Testimony Before the Senate Judiciary Committee,” examines the testimony of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings last month, before his nomination was approved in the Senate. They write that when asked about his Court of Appeals dissents in antitrust cases, he provided little indication that he had wavered in his apparent pro-merger attitude, even when it conflicts with previous binding Supreme Court decisions regarding antitrust law, which he boldly claimed “had not stood the test of time.”
BakerHostetler Partner Carl Hittinger and Associate Tyson Herrold authored an article published Aug. 24, 2018, by The Legal Intelligencer. The article, “Is Judge Kavanaugh a Fan of Antitrust Laws? Let’s Take a Look,” examines the limited antitrust jurisprudence record of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who has been nominated to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Hittinger and Herrold examine two Kavanaugh dissenting opinions in antitrust cases and note that other judges on the D.C. Circuit have strongly criticized him for his naivety on antitrust issues and his seeming disregard for stare decisis and the rule of law that may indicate a willingness to take issue with other Supreme Court precedent. They also point out that Kavanaugh’s dissents illustrate his view that the antitrust laws are designed to promote consumer welfare and business efficiency at the expense of competition when those two goals are at odds, which is reminiscent of onetime Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Bork’s controversial thinking.
We recently wrote that the Department of Justice’s and the Federal Trade Commission’s announcements condemning no-poaching agreements already have sparked civil class actions, including a putative class action against Jimmy John’s. Butler v. Jimmy John’s Franchise, LLP, No. 18-cv-0133, 2018 WL 3631577 (S.D. Ill. July 31, 2018). Since then, the district court denied a motion by Jimmy John’s to dismiss the plaintiff’s Section 1 claim.
According to the allegations, the plaintiff in Jimmy John’s, Sylas Butler, worked as a delivery driver and in-store employee for a Jimmy John’s franchise, but his supervisor cut his hours to approximately four hours per week. Butler wanted to transfer to a different Jimmy John’s franchise, but the Jimmy John’s franchise agreement prohibits any franchisee from soliciting or hiring any employee who has worked at another Jimmy John’s franchise within the previous 12 months. The franchise agreement imposes strict penalties for violating that clause, including termination of the franchise agreement. The franchise agreement also provides that all current and future franchisees are third-party beneficiaries of the agreement, meaning that other Jimmy John’s franchisees can enforce the no-hire provision. Finally, Jimmy John’s franchisees require their employees to sign a noncompete agreement, based on a form agreement provided by Jimmy John’s, that forbids their employees from working for any other area business that sells subs or sandwiches for two years after leaving the franchisee’s employment. Thus, the Jimmy John’s franchise agreement and the noncompete agreement allegedly precluded Butler from transferring to a different Jimmy John’s or a similar business.
Partners Carl Hittinger and Jeffry Duffy authored an article published by The Legal Intelligencer on July 27, 2018. The article, “Actavis and Reverse-Payments Suits in the Third Circuit After Five Years,” examines how purportedly anticompetitive patent-litigation settlement agreements between rival branded and generic pharmaceutical manufacturers—so-called “reverse payment” or “pay for delay” settlements—have generated numerous private lawsuits and remain one of the Federal Trade Commission’s top enforcement priorities. In the five years since Actavis, federal courts in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit have continued to wrestle with a disproportionate share of reverse-payment lawsuits. Those cases have generated a series of rulings by the Third Circuit addressing some of the significant questions left open by Actavis. In their article, Hittinger and Duffy review the rulings and the status of issues left open by Actavis.
In a 5-4 decision in Ohio v. American Express, the Supreme Court affirmed that the anti-steering provisions of American Express’s merchant agreement do not violate Section 1 of the Sherman Act.
Credit card companies’ core business involves two transactions. First, the credit card company provides credit services to its cardholders, as well as additional benefits such as frequent flier miles, cash back, etc. Second, in exchange for a per-transaction fee, the credit card company assumes the risk and costs the merchant would otherwise incur in extending credit to its customers. The credit card company also provides the merchant a customer base that will be more likely to patronize those merchants that accept the credit card.