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30 June 2005

U.S. Court of Appeals Dismisses Price-Fixing Claim in International Vitamins Case

30 June 2005, Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has affirmed the dismissal of a price-fixing claim brought in an international vitamins case, ruling that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the claim. Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP partner Stephen Shapiro argued the case, and partners Tyrone Fahner, Kenneth Geller, Andrew Marovitz, Donald Falk, and Jeffrey Sarles also worked on behalf of defendant BASF Corporation in the case.

The decision in the Empagran case held that plaintiffs could not base their antitrust claims in the United States on conduct that allegedly caused harm outside the United States. The U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed the Sherman Act claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA).

The ruling, which follows the United States Supreme Court's June 14, 2004 decision, affirms the district court's original dismissal of the action. The U.S. Supreme Court in June 2004 ruled 8-0 that federal antitrust law does not apply to transactions causing independent foreign harm that alone gives rise to a plaintiff's claim. Mr. Shapiro had also argued the case on behalf of the defendants before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals to consider an alternate theory of liability. In Tuesday's ruling, the court stated: "We reject the appellants' alternate theory and conclude that we are without subject-matter jurisdiction under the FTAIA."

BASF Corporation was named one of the defendants in the Empagran litigation, a federal class action filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia purportedly on behalf of all persons who purchased vitamins from the defendants outside the United States over a period of years. The Empagran complaint alleged that the plaintiffs were overcharged on their vitamins purchased as the result of a worldwide conspiracy among the defendants to fix vitamin prices.

Empagran S.A. v. F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd

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