Stanislaus Food Prods. v. USS-POSCO Indus.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 10-13-2015
  • Case #: 13-15475
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge McKeown for the Court; Circuit Judges Murguia and Friedland
  • Full Text Opinion

Allegations of conspiracies, based on circumstantial evidence, that violate the Sherman Antitrust Act must show specific evidence of the conspiracy, as well as evidence that tends to exclude the conclusion that the alleged conspirators acted individually.

Stanislaus Food Products Company (“Stanislaus”) raised a claim alleging that USS-POSCO Industries (“UPI”) and United States Steel Corporation (“U.S. Steel”) conspired to reduce competition in the tin mill products market through U.S. Steel’s exit from the western United States marketplace, and U.S. Steel’s lack of serious price competition. Stanislaus argued UPI and U.S. Steel were engaged in a market allocation conspiracy in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act that prohibits conspiracies in restraint of trade or commerce. To prevail on this claim with circumstantial evidence, Stanislaus had to provide evidence that tended to exclude the possibility that the parties were acting independently. The district court ultimately granted summary judgment to UPI and U.S. Steel, which Stanislaus appealed. The Ninth Circuit held that Stanislaus did not meet the evidentiary burden. The panel first found that U.S. Steel did not have a financial incentive to engage in such non-competitive behavior. The panel then held that Stanislaus’s evidence, taken together, did not tend to dismiss the conclusions that UPI and U.S. Steel were acting independently. The lack of specific evidence showing a market allocation agreement coupled with the absence of economic rationality for entering into the agreement led the panel to affirm the district court’s judgment of summary judgment. AFFIRMED.

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