Houston Anti-Trust Lawsuit Attorneys
Antitrust laws are supposed to protect businesses and the consumers who buy a company’s services and products. These laws prevent unscrupulous businesses from engaging in unfair and anticompetitive activities.
At Attorney Tom, our experienced and dedicated team of Houston anti-trust lawsuit attorneys represents businesses and consumers in various cases involving legal disputes, from unfair trade practices to price fixing. You don’t have to go through the complex process alone. We will protect your rights and fight to hold those accountable for the harm they caused.
Call Attorney Tom at (713) 244-6363 for a free consultation to learn more about what we can do for you.
An Overview of Antitrust Laws
People and companies often bring legal actions under specific federal antitrust laws. The purpose of these laws is to impose standards companies must follow to keep the market competitive. Consumers and businesses benefit more from a competitive market than from allowing one or a small number of entities to dominate parts of the market.
Businesses must follow the standards imposed by these laws. However, some engage in unethical or illegal practices, negatively affecting the competition and other parties. When that happens, people or companies may file class action lawsuits. Instead of filing individual lawsuits, a group harmed by the same defendant under similar circumstances joins their cases in a single legal action.
Below are the primary federal antitrust laws governing business practices.
The Sherman Act
Congress passed the first antitrust law in 1890. The Sherman Act prohibits unlawful mergers and business practices. It outlaws every conspiracy, contract, or combination in restraint of trade and any attempted monopolization, actual monopolization, or combination to monopolize.
The Supreme Court initially decided this Act doesn’t prohibit every restraint of trade. The only prohibited actions are unreasonable ones. Two individuals agreeing to form a partnership restrains trade, but if their agreement isn’t unreasonable, it can be lawful under antitrust laws.
Specific acts are almost always illegal because they harm competition. That might include plain arrangements among competing businesses or individuals to divide markets, rig bids, or fix prices. Under the Sherman Act, these are “per se violations,” meaning there is no justification or defense against the offense.
The Clayton Act
The Clayton Act is another federal statute imposing restrictions on proposed mergers and acquisitions, exclusive dealing, and tying arrangements. It’s also a supplemental law to the Sherman Act, prohibiting specific commercial practices that excessively suppress competition.
It also establishes a cause of action for private parties to act as private attorneys general in cases involving antitrust injury. If a private individual is successful in litigation, they are entitled to attorneys’ fees and compensation up to three times their actual or compensatory damages. The act allows the courts to prohibit anticompetitive actions and award related relief.
The Robinson-Patman Act
The Robinson-Patman Act modifies the Clayton Act, forbidding sellers to participate in specific forms of price discrimination. For example, it is illegal for a seller to sell the same or similar products to different commercial buyers simultaneously at varying prices if the practices harm competitive processes in the buyers’ market, seller’s market, or a downstream market, leading to a disfavored buyer competing against the favored buyers’ customers.
In general, price discrimination is lawful if the prices result from a seller’s attempts to meet competitor pricing or reflect the differing costs of dealing with different buyers. However, some actionable offenses require evaluations consistent with broader antitrust policies. The Supreme Court rules that claims brought under the Robinson-Patman Act must meet these legal conditions:
- The goods are of like quality and grade
- The sale must occur across a state line
- The action involves commodities, not services, and purchases, not leases
- An injury to the competition must be likely, meaning a private plaintiff must show the actual harm they suffered as an individual or business
Engaging in discriminatory services or allowances paid or furnished to customers is also unlawful. Sellers must treat all competing customers equally and notify them of the available services or allowances.
The Federal Trade Commission Act
The Federal Trade Commission Act is the primary federal statute established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC has the regulatory authority to enforce the Robinson-Patman Act, Sherman Act, and Clayton Act. The Commission is also authorized to:
- Seek monetary redress and other relief for conduct leading to consumer harm
- Prevent unfair competition methods and deceptive or unfair practices or acts in or affecting commerce
- Collect and compile information and conduct investigations involving the practices, organization, business, and management of entities engaged in commerce
- Impose rules related to practices or acts that are deceptive or unfair and establish requirements designed to prevent those practices or acts
- Create reports and legislative recommendations to the public and Congress
The Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act
The Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act amends the Clayton Act. It requires businesses to file premerger notifications for specific acquisitions with the FTC and Antitrust Division of the Justice Department.
Companies must comply with waiting periods before completing these acquisitions. Enforcement agencies can also postpone those periods until businesses provide additional information on the proposed transaction’s likelihood of reducing competition substantially in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act. A filing fee is also divided evenly between and credited to the FTC and Antitrust Division funding.
Common Types of Antitrust Lawsuits
The antitrust lawsuit attorneys of Attorney Tom represent clients in individual lawsuits and class actions involving claims, such as:
- Price fixing – Price fixing occurs when competitors enter a verbal, written, or inferred agreement to reduce, stabilize, raise, or maintain price levels rather than allowing market forces to determine the price. Agreeing to restrict competition often leads to higher prices for consumers and other parties within the supply chain.
- Unlawful monopolization – Monopolization happens when a single company restrains competition to maintain or acquire control in the market. Unlike a business’s natural acquisition of monopoly power, unlawful actions occur when one company deliberately destroys rivals to control the market of a particular service or good.
- Bid rigging – Bid rigging occurs when businesses undermine the bidding process to obtain a government or company contract by conspiring with their competitors. A company might rig bids by working with others to submit inflated bids to make the ultimate winning bid seem reasonable, or they might collude to award a subcontract to the losing bidders who participated in the bid inflation scheme.
- Generic drug litigation – Pharmaceutical prices remain high for patients when manufacturers engage in various price inflation schemes. For example, one company might accept compensation for withholding a competing drug from the market, or two companies enter a price-fixing agreement.
- Sherman antitrust claims – Antitrust claims brought under the Sherman Antitrust Act involve an unreasonable restraint of trade, such as market manipulation and illegal monopoly that harm individuals, institutions, and companies.
- Mergers and acquisitions – Mergers and acquisitions that create monopolies for particular services or goods or substantially reduce the competition are illegal acts under antitrust laws.
- Market division or customer allocation – Schemes involving market division or customer allocation are competitor agreements to divide the markets among themselves. Market division antitrust lawsuits might involve companies colluding to allocate products, territories, or customers between competing companies.
- Unfair trade practices – Unfair trade practices can include market allocation, fraud, price fixing, false advertising, bid rigging, misrepresentation, and other deceptive practices.
We are currently looking into Steam anti-trust litigation.
Pursuing a Class Action Lawsuit under Antitrust Laws
Pursuing legal action against a large corporation or powerful business might seem like a daunting task. However, you don’t have to fight them alone. Attorney Tom can represent you and provide the guidance you need to navigate the complex legal battle you face. We can review your case and advise you of the various options for holding the company liable for violating antitrust laws and causing harm.
A class action combines lawsuits from multiple plaintiffs into one lawsuit against one or multiple defendants for the same unlawful act. Instead of pursuing your case individually, you can participate in a class action lawsuit with other individuals and businesses. A class action simplifies the process and reduces litigation costs since you share the expenses with a large group of plaintiffs.
You must meet specific requirements to join a class action, including:
- Every member of the class has a similar claim involving similar harm or financial losses
- One or a few class members serve as the lead plaintiff to represent all other members
- There is evidence of a pattern of harm caused by the defendant
Typically, anyone who might have suffered losses receives a notice about the lawsuit informing them of their possible eligibility to participate. You’re not obligated to be a member of the class. You can opt out of the class action if you want to pursue an individual lawsuit against the defendant.
Contact Our Antitrust Lawsuit Attorneys
Attorney Tom believes in advocating for individuals and businesses suffering the consequences of illegal and unfair misconduct. We will provide personalized and dependable representation and aggressively seek the compensation you deserve. You can count on us to fight by your side until the end.
If you are a business or consumer harmed by a company’s antitrust law violations, call Attorney Tom at (713) 244-6363 for a free consultation today. We will determine whether you qualify for an individual or class action lawsuit and start working on your case to try to achieve the best possible result.