Antitrust

Monopolization Claims

11/28/2016

  • In 2016, Susman Godfrey secured a $244 million settlement of federal monopolization claims in this class action against News Corporation and its affiliates. The media giant also agreed to change its contracting practices regarding in-store advertising.  The settlement brought to a close three years of litigation by a class of more than 600 consumer packaged goods companies who alleged News Corp. monopolizes the  market for in-store advertising in grocery and drug stores.  Susman Godfrey was co-lead counsel for a class of businesses that included lead plaintiffs the H.J. Heinz Company, The Dial Corporation, Henkel Consumer Goods Inc., Smithfield Foods Inc., Foster Poultry Farms, HP Hood, and BEF Foods, Inc.  In an opinion approving the settlement, the presiding judge said “this antitrust action was exceptionally complex” and “Plaintiffs were represented by some of the finest antitrust lawyers in the nation.”

 

  • In June 2016, Susman Godfrey was informed they won an April 2015 trial before an SEC administrative law judge on behalf of NASDAQ. A consortium of big banks had challenged as anti-competitive NASDAQ’s rule changes on pricing for market data. Another law firm had been handling the matter on behalf of NASDAQ, but when NASDAQ found out the case was going to result in an actual hearing with live witnesses, its General Counsel called on Steve Susman to take charge. Despite having to wait a year for a final ruling, Susman Godfrey’s leadership helped uphold NASDAQ’s rule changes and pricing decisions in every respect.

 

  • In 2015, Susman Godfrey served as co-lead counsel in an antitrust matter alleging Comcast illegally established a cable television monopoly in the Philadelphia area. The parties settled for $50 million after remand of the case from the U.S. Supreme Court

 

  • In 2014, after being appointed by the court as lead counsel for consumers of the largest hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus tour company in New York City, the firm secured a $19 million settlement of antitrust claims against the company.

 

  • As a result of Susman Godfrey's efforts, a federal jury in Los Angeles reached a verdict in favor of our client, Masimo Corporation, against Tyco Health Care Group, LP and its affiliate, Mallinckrodt, Inc. Masimo brought claims under the federal antitrust laws alleging that Tyco's anticompetitive practices prevented Masimo from selling its competing pulse oximetry products to hospitals in the United States.  After the trial court vacated the damages award and certain liability findings in its ruling on Tyco's post-trial motions, the issue of damages was re-tried in a bench trial, and the trial court entered a judgment in Masimo's favor for $43.5 million, plus attorneys' fees and costs.  The Court's judgment was affirmed on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Tyco paid the judgment in 2010. 

 

  • Susman Godfrey represented a nationwide antitrust class against Google for breach of contract, unfair competition, and false advertising relating to Google's AdWords billing practices and related disclosures. The Firm obtained a $20 million settlement in September 2009, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Susman Godfrey also won this matter when it was appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

 

  • Susman Godfrey represented start-up mainframe computer company Platform Solutions, Inc. ("PSI") in an antitrust and intellectual property action against IBM, the dominant player in the multi-billion dollar worldwide mainframe market. PSI alleged that IBM abused its monopoly power in that market by tying its mainframe operating systems to its mainframe computer products, and through discriminatory licensing of intellectual property relating to its mainframe products.  We helped PSI achieve a favorable settlement in 2009.

 

  • Susman Godfrey was one of two co-lead counsel in an antitrust class action on behalf of a class of current and former football and basketball players at Division I schools. The case challenged an NCAA rule limiting the amount of athletics-based financial aid member schools may provide as a violation of Section I of the Sherman Act. Under the settlement approved in 2008, the NCAA agreed to make $218 million available over five years for schools to provide additional benefits to student athletes, create a $10 million fund to provide educational and professional benefits to former student athletes, and modify its rules.

 

  • In White, et al. v. NCAA, Susman Godfrey served as co-lead counsel in an antitrust class action alleging that the NCAA violated the federal antitrust laws by restricting amounts of athletic based financial aid. The NCAA settled and paid, after fees and expenses, an additional $218 million for use by current student-athletes to cover the costs of attending college and paid $10 million to cover educational and professional development expenses for former student-athletes.

 

  • Susman Godfrey represented defendant Clear Channel Communications, Inc. in a suit brought by Spanish Broadcasting Corporation, Inc. ("SBS") alleging $1.5 billion in damages from supposed anticompetitive conduct by Clear Channel and another defendant. Susman Godfrey filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in its entirety, which the Court granted with prejudice. SBS appealed to the Eleventh Circuit, which affirmed the dismissal in favor of Clear Channel.

 

Susman Godfrey has also successfully handled a number of antitrust actions against Microsoft Corporation:

 

  • Susman Godfrey represented Caldera Inc. in a suit to recover hundreds of millions of dollars from Microsoft for monopolizing the market for personal computer operating systems. Our massive discovery efforts included taking the depositions of top Microsoft executives Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.  We defeated Microsoft's repeated summary judgment motions and settled the case two weeks before trial for a confidential amount that was reported by the Wall Street Journal as $285 million.

 

  • Representing Novell, Inc. and without filing a lawsuit, Susman Godfrey negotiated a settlement from Microsoft for $536 million, which included $88 million in attorneys' fees. Susman Godfrey negotiated the settlement of antitrust claims related to Novell's NetWare products. As Novell's general counsel Joseph A. LaSala, Jr., stated, "This is a significant settlement, particularly since we were able to achieve our objectives without filing expensive litigation."

 

  • Susman Godfrey obtained a mediated settlement with Microsoft on behalf of operating system competitor Be, Incorporated. Susman Godfrey filed suit on behalf of Be alleging that Microsoft's predatory conduct and exclusive dealing destroyed Be's personal computer operating system business.  Be received $23,250,000 from Microsoft after $8,645,000 in attorneys' fees and expenses.  All other terms of the settlement remain confidential, and Microsoft did not admit any wrongdoing.

 

  • Susman Godfrey represented Gateway, Inc. and negotiated an agreement requiring Microsoft to pay Gateway a settlement over four years in exchange for Gateway’s release of antitrust claims against Microsoft.

 

  • Susman Godfrey represented the Mississippi Attorney General, the Honorable Jim Hood, in a long-running action against Microsoft in Jackson, Mississippi, alleging the software maker violated Mississippi's Consumer Protection Act and Antitrust laws through its actions in the operating systems and office applications markets. The Attorney General announced the $100 million plus settlement of the case on June 11, 2009.

 

  • Susman Godfrey client Gateway Inc. and Microsoft Corp. jointly announced that they had entered into an agreement to resolve legal issues between the two companies and work together on the marketing and development of Gateway personal computing products. As part of the agreement, Microsoft agreed to provide funds that Gateway expected to use for marketing initiatives, including advertising, sales training and consulting, as well as the research, development and testing of new Gateway products that could run Microsoft operating system and productivity software. The agreement provides for periodic Microsoft payments to Gateway totaling an aggregate amount of $150 million over four years. As part of this agreement, Gateway released all antitrust claims against Microsoft based on past conduct.