Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation

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At issue in these certified questions was the proper interpretation of the safe-harbor provision of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA), Ark. Code Ann. 4-88-101(3). The Supreme Court exercised its discretion to reformulate the questions and answered that the ADTPA’s safe-harbor provision should be applied according to the specific-conduct rule, rather than the general-activity rule. Here, Petitioner filed suit against Respondent in federal district court, alleging, inter alia, violations of the ADTPA. Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that it should receive the benefit of the safe-harbor provision of the ADTPA. Because the Supreme Court never expressly interpreted the safe-harbor provision of the ADPTA, the federal district court presented the Supreme Court with questions regarding the proper interpretation of the safe-harbor provision. The Supreme Court answered as set forth above, which meant that the provision precludes claims only when the actions or transactions at issue have been specifically permitted or authorized under laws administered by a state or federal regulatory body or officer. View "Air Evac EMS, Inc. v. Usable Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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CACH, LLC filed a complaint against William Echols alleging that Echols breached his contract with a bank when he defaulted on his obligation to pay for charges incurred on a credit card and that, as current owner of the account, CACH was entitled to payment of the balance due on the credit card. Echols filed a class action counterclaim alleging that CACH violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the common law when it demanded payment from and filed suit against Echols and other Arkansas residents. The circuit court entered an order granting class certification. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting class certification. View "CACH, LLC v. Echols" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint against Philip Morris Companies Inc. and Philip Morris Inc., alleging that Philip Morris violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) by falsely advertising that its Marlboro Lights cigarettes were safer and contained less tar and nicotine than other cigarettes. The circuit court certified Plaintiffs’ class action, concluding that common issues among all class members predominated over any individual issues and that a class action was a superior method of resolving the claim. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order certifying the class, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class, as common issues predominated, a class action was a superior method of adjudication, and the class was ascertainable. View "Philip Morris Cos., Inc. v. Miner" on Justia Law

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In 1993, Appellants developed Risperdal, a second-generation, or atypical, antipsychotic medication, which was considered highly beneficial in treating schizophrenia patients. In 2007, the State filed suit against Appellants, alleging that Appellants (1) knowingly made false statements or representations of material fact in their Risperdal label in violation of the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act (“MFFCA”); and (2) violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“DTPA”) by distributing a promotional letter to Arkansas healthcare providers that contained “false, deceptive, or unconscionable statements.” A jury found that Janssen violated the MFFCA and the DTPA by failing to comply with federal labeling requirements and imposed civil penalties totaling $11,422,500. The Supreme Court (1) reversed and dismissed the MFFCA claim, as Appellants were not healthcare facilities or applying for certification as described by the statute; and (2) reversed and remanded the DTPA claim, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in admitting certain hearsay into evidence. View "Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharms., Inc. v. State" on Justia Law

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Arloe Designs, LLC proposed to build a building at an airport. Arkansas Capital Corporation (ACC) and National Bank of Arkansas (NBA) allegedly worked together to procure a loan for the building’s construction. After the NBA approved financing for the project, Arloe entered into a thirty-year lease for the new hangar. Later that month, Arloe learned that NBA would not close the loan without a bond as collateral, which Arloe did not give, and therefore, the loan was not closed. Arloe sued ACC and NBA, alleging breach of contract, violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trades Practices Act, negligence, and promissory estoppel. The circuit court granted summary judgment to Defendants as to all but Arloe’s promissory estoppel claim, and limited damages for that claim to the money Arloe had spent in reliance on the claimed promise. At trial, a jury found Arloe had not proved that either defendant had made a promise to loan Arloe money. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Arloe’s claims that the circuit court erred in denying it recovery for lost profit damages and limiting its damages on its promissory-estoppel claim were moot; and (2) summary judgment was proper in regard to the remainder of Arloe’s claims. View "Arloe Designs LLC v. Ark. Capital Corp." on Justia Law

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Appellant and her two uncles each owned as tenants in common an undivided one-third interest in two tracts of farmland. Both of Appellant's uncles separately sold their interest in the property to Appellee. Appellee subsequently sold one of the farms. Appellant filed a complaint seeking a partition of the lands and damages for breach of fiduciary duty as a tenant in common, tortious interference, and deceptive trade practices. Appellant claimed that Appellee prevented a family partnership from entering into seven-year renewal leases with farmers who leased the farmland and prevented the partnership from implementing a long-term plan for improving the farms. The circuit court granted summary judgment in Appellee's favor and dismissed the action with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly granted summary judgment on Appellant's three claims, as Appellant failed to meet proof with proof that she sustained any damages as a result of Appellee's alleged breach of fiduciary duty, alleged tortious interference, and alleged deceptive trade practice. View "Skalla v. Canepari" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff obtained a last will and testament from LegalZoom.com. Before receiving the requested document, Plaintiff agreed to LegalZoom.com's terms of service, which included an arbitration provision. The agreement also provided that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) governed the interpretation and enforcement of the agreement's provisions. Plaintiff later filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that LegalZoom.com engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, among other claims. LegalZoom.com filed a motion to compel arbitration. The trial court denied the motion based upon the allegations concerning the unauthorized practice of law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court erred because Arkansas law does not prohibit the enforcement of arbitration agreements requiring resolution through arbitration of private claims when a dispute concerns allegations of the unauthorized practice of law; and (2) any rule prohibiting arbitration of unauthorized practice-of-law claims were preempted by the FAA in this case. View "Legalzoom.com, Inc. v. McIllwain" on Justia Law

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Appellant was in the business of extending high-risk loans to customers with poor credit ratings and operated primarily in Louisiana. Appellees, who resided in Arkansas, obtained four loans from Appellant at its location in Louisiana. After Appellees failed to make payments on the loans, Appellant filed in an Arkansas circuit court a notice of default and intention to sell Appellees' home. Appellees asserted the defenses of usury, unconscionability, esoppel, unclean hands, predatory lending practices, and a violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The circuit court found that the loans constituted predatory lending by a foreign corporation not authorized to do business in Arkansas and that the contract between the parties was unconscionable and could not be given full faith and credit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court's findings of unconscionability and predatory lending practices were not clearly erroneous; and (2) court did not err in refusing to enforce the mortgage, as to do so would contravene the public policy of the State of Arkansas. View "Gulfco of La. Inc. v. Brantley" on Justia Law

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Holline and William Parsons (Plaintiffs) were enrolled in Today's Option, a Medicare Advantage Plan sponsored by the Pyramid Life Insurance Company (Pyramid). After Plaintiffs were each disenrolled from their respective plans, they brought suit against Pyramid, asserting numerous state law claims. The circuit court granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment in part declaring that the Medicare Act did not provide the exclusive remedy for Plaintiffs' claims in this case. Pyramid then moved for Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b) certification and a stay pending appeal, requesting permission to file an interlocutory appeal on the issues of whether Plaintiffs' state-law claims arose under the Medicare Act and whether their claims, to the extent they did not arise under the Act, were expressly preempted by the Act. The circuit court certified this appeal pursuant to Rule 54(b). The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal without prejudice, holding that the finding supporting Rule 54(b) certification was in error. View "Pyramid Life Ins. Co. v. Parsons" on Justia Law

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State Farm filed a complaint for negligence against Appellant, alleging that Appellant was at fault in an automobile accident with State Farm's insured. Appellant counterclaimed, alleging that State Farm was unjustly enriched as a result of having engaged in the deceptive and unlawful business practice of causing collection-style letters to be mailed in an attempt to collect unadjudicated, potential subrogation claims as debts. Appellant's counterclaim identified two putative classes. State Farm filed a motion to strike the class allegations. Rather than granting the motion to strike class allegations, the circuit court denied class certification "for the reasons stated in State Farm's motion." The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court acted without due consideration of the Court's foregoing case law on typicality, commonality, and predominance and therefore abused its discretion in prematurely denying class certification at the early pleading stage of this case. Remanded. View "Kersten v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co." on Justia Law