G&E serves as lead or co-lead counsel in class and individual antitrust actions involving claims against manufacturers and producers of goods and services for monopolization, illegal price fixing, illegal tying arrangements and other violations of antitrust law. In these types of cases, G&E attorneys have obtained settlements on behalf of direct purchasers totaling well over $1 billion, including some of the following cases.
Eastern District of New York
G&E represents CVS Pharmacy in litigation brought under Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act against American Express challenging certain rules imposed on merchants that accept American Express charge and credit cards known as “anti-steering” rules. The case, filed in June 2008, was consolidated with other individual cases brought by other major merchants. The case alleges that the anti-steering rules prohibited CVS and other merchants from doing anything that could lead or “steer” a retail purchaser to use a lower priced payment card product than an American Express card, and prohibited surcharging and discounting and other practices, which resulted in higher fees to the merchants, higher retail prices to the merchant’s customers, and other harm to competition.
On October 4, 2010, the Department of Justice and seven states sued American Express in a civil action brought in the Eastern District of New York challenging the same rules; the cases are being coordinated.
Eastern District of New York
G&E represents Meijer, Inc., Publix Supermarkets, Inc., SuperValu, Inc., Wakefern Food Corporation, Raley’s, QVC, and other major merchants in an antitrust action against Visa and MasterCard. In June 2005, these retail chains filed private antitrust suits related to credit card interchange fees. Class action lawsuits were also filed, and all of the cases were centralized in the Eastern District of New York. The suits allege that Visa and MasterCard have engaged in collusive practices to fix the interchange fees at artificially high rates, and that certain rules promulgated and enforced by Visa and MasterCard are anticompetitive and artificially increase the interchange fees paid to card issuing banks by the merchants. On October 4, 2010, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) sued Visa and MasterCard for much of the conduct alleged in the pending suits, using the record that the private plaintiffs had developed to bring its litigation. On that same day that the government suit was filed, both Visa and MasterCard entered into consent agreements with the DOJ.
District of New Jersey
Plaintiffs brought this antitrust class action on behalf of physicians and other health care providers nationwide against Sanofi Pasteur alleging that the defendant monopolized U.S. markets for a number of pediatric vaccines, including pediatric meningitis vaccines. Plaintiffs allege that Sanofi abused its monopoly power by engaging in unlawful bundling practices, requiring physicians to either pay a penalty price or purchase an entire bundle of various Sanofi vaccines in order to obtain Sanofi’s meningitis vaccine, Menactra. As a result of this bundling scheme, allege plaintiffs, physicians and health care providers nationwide were overcharged for pediatric vaccine purchases by Sanofi.
The case was filed in the District of New Jersey on December 9, 2011. In addition to moving to dismiss, Sanofi took the highly unusual step of filing a counterclaim against all members of the proposed class that would claim proceeds from any settlement. Plaintiffs prevailed on both fronts—successfully opposing not only the motion to dismiss, but also successfully getting Sanofi’s counterclaim dismissed. Discovery is in its early stages.