324 F.3d 141 (3rd Cir. 2003), 00-1368, LePage's Inc. v. 3M

Docket Nº:00-1368, 00-1473
Citation:324 F.3d 141
Party Name:LEPAGE'S INCORPORATED; LEPAGE'S MANAGEMENT COMPANY, L.L.C., Appellees/Cross-Appellants v. 3M (MINNESOTA MINING AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY); KROLL ASSOCIATES, INC. Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, Appellant/Cross-Appellee
Case Date:March 25, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Page 141

324 F.3d 141 (3rd Cir. 2003)

LEPAGE'S INCORPORATED; LEPAGE'S MANAGEMENT COMPANY, L.L.C., Appellees/Cross-Appellants

v.

3M (MINNESOTA MINING AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY); KROLL ASSOCIATES, INC. Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, Appellant/Cross-Appellee

Nos. 00-1368, 00-1473

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

March 25, 2003

Argied July 12, 2001

Reargued En Banc October 30, 2002.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 143

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, D.C. Civ. No. 97-03983, District Judge: The Honorable John R. Padova

Barbara W. Mather, Jeremy Heep, Pepper Hamilton LLP Philadelphia, PA, Peter Hearn Peter Hearn, P.C., Philadelphia, PA, Mark W. Ryan, Kerry Lynn Edwards, Donald M. Falk, Robert L. Bronston, David A.J. Goldfine, Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, Washington, D.C., Roy T. Englert, Jr. (Argued) Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck & Untereiner, Washington, D.C., Attorneys for Appellees/Cross-Appellants

M. Laurence Popofsky (Argued), Stephen V. Bomse, Paul Alexander, Marie L. Fiala, Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, San Francisco, CA, John G. Harkins, Jr. Harkins Cunningham, Philadelphia, PA Attorneys for Appellant/Cross-Appellee

BEFORE: SLOVITER, ALITO, and GREENBERG, Circuit Judges

BEFORE: BECKER, Chief Judge, SLOVITER, SCIRICA, NYGAARD, ALITO, McKEE, AMBRO, FUENTES, SMITH and GREENBERG, Circuit Judges

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OPINION

SLOVITER, Circuit Judge.

SLOVITER, Circuit Judge, with whom Becker, Chief Judge, Nygaard, McKee, Ambro, Fuentes, and Smith, Circuit Judges, join:

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company ("3M") appeals from the District Court's order entered March 14, 2000, declining to overturn the jury's verdict for LePage's in its suit against 3M under Section 2 of the Sherman Act ("§ 2"). 3M raises various objections to the trial court's decision but essentially its position is a legal one: it contends that a plaintiff cannot succeed in a § 2 monopolization case unless it shows that the conceded monopolist sold its product below cost. Because we conclude that exclusionary conduct, such as the exclusive dealing and bundled rebates proven here, can sustain a verdict under § 2 against a monopolist and because we find no other reversible error, we will affirm.

I.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

3M, which manufactures Scotch tape for home and office use, dominated the United States transparent tape market with a market share above 90% until the early 1990s. It has conceded that it has a monopoly in that market. LePage's,1 founded in 1876, has sold a variety of office products and, around 1980, decided to sell "second brand" and private label transparent tape, i.e., tape sold under the retailer's name rather than under the name of the manufacturer. By 1992, LePage's sold 88% of private label tape sales in the United States, which represented but a small portion of the transparent tape market. Private label tape sold at a lower price to the retailer and the customer than branded tape.

Distribution patterns and consumer acceptance accounted for a shift of some tape sales from branded tape to private label tape. With the rapid growth of office superstores, such as Staples and Office Depot, and mass merchandisers, such as Wal-Mart and Kmart, distribution patterns for second brand and private label tape changed as many of the large retailers wanted to use their "brand names" to sell stationery products, including transparent tape. 3M also entered the private label business during the early 1990s and sold its own second brand under the name "Highland."

LePage's claims that, in response to the growth of this competitive market, 3M engaged in a series of related, anticompetitive acts aimed at restricting the availability of lower-priced transparent tape to consumers. It also claims that 3M devised programs that prevented LePage's and the other domestic company in the business, Tesa Tuck, Inc., from gaining or maintaining large volume sales and that 3M maintained its monopoly by stifling growth of private label tape and by coordinating efforts aimed at large distributors to keep retail prices for Scotch tape high.2 LePage's claims that it barely was surviving at the time of trial and that it Page 145

suffered large operating losses from 1996 through 1999. LePage's brought this antitrust action asserting that 3M used its monopoly over its Scotch tape brand to gain a competitive advantage in the private label tape portion of the transparent tape market in the United States through the use of 3M's multi-tiered "bundled rebate" structure, which offered higher rebates when customers purchased products in a number of 3M's different product lines. LePage's also alleges that 3M offered to some of LePage's customers large lump-sum cash payments, promotional allowances and other cash incentives to encourage them to enter into exclusive dealing arrangements with 3M.

LePage's asserted claims for unlawful agreements in restraint of trade under § 1 of the Sherman Act, monopolization and attempted monopolization under § 2 of the Sherman Act, and exclusive dealing under § 3 of the Clayton Act. After a nine week trial, the jury returned its verdict for LePage's on both its monopolization and attempted monopolization claims under § 2 of the Sherman Act, and assessed damages of $22,828,899 on each. It found in 3M's favor on LePage's claims under § 1 of the Sherman Act and§ 3 of the Clayton Act. 3M filed its motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial, arguing that its rebate and discount programs and the other conduct of which LePage's complained did not constitute the basis for a valid antitrust claim as a matter of law and that, in any event, the court's charge to the jury was insufficiently specific and LePage's damages proof was speculative. 3 The District Court granted 3M's motion for judgment as a matter of law on LePage's "attempted maintenance of monopoly power" claim but denied 3M's motion for judgment as a matter of law in all other respects and denied its motion for new trial. LePage's Inc. v. 3M, No. CIV. A.97-3983, 2000 WL 280350 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 14, 2000). The Court subsequently entered a judgment for trebled damages of $68,486,697 to which interest was to be added. LePage's filed a cross appeal on the District Court's judgment dismissing its attempted maintenance of monopoly power claim.

On appeal, the panel of this court before which this case was originally argued reversed the District Court's judgment on LePage's § 2 claim by a divided vote. LePage'sInc. v. 3M, Nos. 00-1368 and 00-1473 (3d Cir. Jan. 14, 2002). This court granted LePage's motion for rehearing en banc and, pursuant to its practice, vacated the panel opinion. LePage's Inc. v. 3M, Nos. 00-1368 and 00-1473 (3d Cir. Feb. 25, 2002) (order vacating panel opinion). The appeal was then orally argued before the court en banc.

II.

JURISDICTION AND STANDARD OF REVIEW

The District Court had jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1337(a) because LePage's brought these claims under the Sherman and Clayton Acts. We have jurisdiction over this appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

We exercise plenary review over an order granting or denying a motion for judgment as a matter of law. Shade v. Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 154 F.3d 143, 149 (3d Cir. 1998). When, as here, a defendant makes such a motion, a court should grant it "only if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant Page 146

and giving it the advantage of every fair and reasonable inference, there is insufficient evidence from which a jury reasonably could find liability." Lightning Lube, Inc. v. Witco Corp., 4 F.3d 1153, 1166 (3d Cir. 1993). Thus, we review the evidence on the appeal in the light most favorable to LePage's. As the historical facts are not in sharp dispute, and our opinion turns largely on legal determinations, we review questions of law underlying the jury verdict on a plenary basis. Bloom v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 41 F.3d 911, 913 (3d Cir. 1994). Our review of a jury's verdict is limited to determining whether some evidence in the record supports the jury's verdict. See Swineford v. Snyder County, 15 F.3d 1258, 1265 (3d Cir. 1994) ("A jury verdict will not be overturned unless the record is critically deficient of that quantum of evidence from which a jury could have rationally reached its verdict.").

III.

MONOPOLIZATION — APPLICABLE LEGAL PRINCIPLES

Section 2 of the Sherman Act provides:

Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $10,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $350,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding three years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

15 U.S.C. § 2 (2002). A private party may sue for damages for violation of this provision and recover threefold the damages and counsel fees. Id. § 15. Because this section is in sweeping language, suggesting the breadth of its coverage, we look to the Supreme Court decisions for elucidation of the standard to be used in cases alleging monopolization. Elucidation came in United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563 (1966), where the Court declared that a defendant company which possesses monopoly power in the relevant market will be found in violation of § 2 of the Sherman Act if the defendant willfully acquired or maintained that power. Id. at 570-71.

In this case, the parties agreed that the relevant product market is transparent tape and the relevant geographic market is the United States.4 Moreover, as to the issue of monopoly power, as we noted above, 3M concedes it possesses...

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