Lex Machina Antitrust Litigation Report Shows Decline in New Case Filings and Strong Influence of Multidistrict Litigation

Cases against pharmaceutical and chemical companies dominated new case filings.
The federal government was the top plaintiff and pork manufacturers were the top defendant in non-multidistrict litigation cases.
Federal courts awarded over $4.3 billion total damages in antitrust cases in 2018.

Menlo Park, CA — April 2, 2019 Lex Machina, a LexisNexis company and creator of the award-winning Legal Analytics® platform, today released findings from its second Antitrust Litigation Report, which illuminates trends and insights from more than 9,000 antitrust cases active since 2009, including Sherman Act, Clayton Act and Federal Trade Commission Act violations, as well as analysis of multidistrict litigation (MDL). To request a full copy of the report, please visit here.

The report found that new antitrust case filings in 2018 were the lowest since 2011 (548 cases) after peaking in 2015 (922 cases). The majority of parties involved in antitrust litigation between 2016 and 2018 were generic drug manufacturers and pharmacies. However, when MDL-associated cases were removed, the federal government was the top plaintiff and pork products manufacturers were the top defendants.

The report separates out statistics for contested Department of Justice/Federal Trade Commission enforcement cases because they operate differently than non-government enforcement cases. Government claimants won seven of the eight contested DOJ/FTC Enforcement cases (87.5%) that resolved at trial between 2016 and 2018. Of those cases, AT&T was the only defendant to win at trial, a decision that allowed its merger with Time Warner, Inc. Findings in antitrust cases that are not DOJ/FTC enforcement cases have no clear winner among claimants or defendants at trial.

Between 2016 and 2018, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (E.D. Pa.) was the most active district with nearly 16% of all filings (294 cases), including a spike in litigation in 2017 for anticompetitive behavior among generic drug makers. The next most active district was the Eastern District of Michigan (E.D. Mich.; 171 cases), which had a large number of cases claiming price fixing in the auto parts industry. Other recent major antitrust cases involved price fixing for aluminum sulfate and alleged illegal customer and territorial allocation by wholesale grocers.

“Whether it’s a case contesting a Department of Justice enforcement action or a price-fixing case in the Midwest — crafting winning antitrust litigation strategy requires Legal Analytics to make better data-driven decisions,” said Karl Harris, CEO of Lex Machina. “Lex Machina has the data and powerful analytics to ensure that lawyers can gain valuable strategic insights and set successful litigation strategy.”

The report provides strategic insights about trends in antitrust case timing, resolutions, findings, damages and remedies, as well as actionable intelligence on opposing counsel, law firms, parties, judges, venues and more. Highlights from the report include:

  • For antitrust cases terminating between 2016 and 2018, the median time to reach summary judgement was 2.5 years, and time to trial was 3 years. In contested DOJ/FTC enforcement cases, the median time to termination was only 127 days.
  • Judge Cynthia M. Rufe (E.D. Pa.) and Judge Marianne O. Battani (E.D. Mich.) oversaw the most antitrust cases filed between 2016 and 2018 (249 cases and 139 cases, respectively).
  • The top plaintiff in antitrust cases filed between 2016 and 2018 was FWK Holdings, LLC. FWK Holdings is a predecessor in interest for a now defunct pharmaceutical wholesaler claiming injury based on anticompetitive behavior by generic drug manufacturers.
  • In 2018, federal courts approved over $3.6 billion in class action settlement damages. They also awarded over $515 million in antitrust violation damages and over $117 million in enhanced damages. Nearly $4.3 billion total damages were awarded in antitrust cases in 2018.

“Lex Machina’s Antitrust Litigation Report shows how events affect the business of litigating antitrust matters,” said Daniel Culley, a partner in Cleary Gottlieb’s antitrust practice. “Large law firms can see the value of having relationships with local counsel because the data shows how antitrust litigation crops up in different jurisdictions and its effects on the overall landscape.”

Antitrust Litigation Report Webcast
Lex Machina Legal Data Expert Rachel Bailey and Cleary Gottlieb’s Daniel Culley will host a webcast on April 2, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time to review the highlights and findings of the report. To register for the webcast, please visit here.

About Lex Machina
Lex Machina’s award-winning Legal Analytics® platform is a new category of legal technology that fundamentally changes how companies and law firms compete in the business and practice of law. Delivered as Software-as a-Service, Lex Machina provides strategic insights on judges, lawyers, parties, and more, mined from millions of pages of legal information. This allows law firms and companies to predict the behaviors and outcomes that different legal strategies will produce, enabling them to win cases and close business.

Lex Machina was named “Best Legal Analytics” by readers of The Recorder in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and received the “Best New Product of the Year” award in 2015 from the American Association of Law Libraries. It was recently named a 2017 “Legal A.I. Leader” by the National Law Journal, and a finalist in Legalweek’s 2018 Product Innovation Award competition.

Based in Silicon Valley, Lex Machina is part of LexisNexis, a leading information provider and a pioneer in delivering trusted legal content and insights through innovative research and productivity solutions, supporting the needs of legal professionals at every step of their workflow. By harnessing the power of Big Data, LexisNexis provides legal professionals with essential information and insights derived from an unmatched collection of legal and news content—fueling productivity, confidence, and better outcomes. For more information, please visit www.lexmachina.com.

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