477 F.3d 535 (8th Cir. 2007), 05-4303, In re Monosodium Glutamate Antitrust Litigation

Docket Nº:05-4303, 05-4307.
Citation:477 F.3d 535
Party Name:In re MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE ANTITRUST LITIGATION. Inquivosa SA; Petbowe Chemtrade Corporation; Plus Sun Company, Ltd.; MCC Menssing Chemiehandel & Consultants GMBH; Newco Trading Company, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs/Appellants, v. Ajinomoto Company, Inc.; Ajinomoto USA, Inc.; Orsan S.A.; Cheil Jedang Corpora
Case Date:February 08, 2007
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 535

477 F.3d 535 (8th Cir. 2007)

In re MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE ANTITRUST LITIGATION.

Inquivosa SA; Petbowe Chemtrade Corporation; Plus Sun Company, Ltd.; MCC Menssing Chemiehandel & Consultants GMBH; Newco Trading Company, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs/Appellants,

v.

Ajinomoto Company, Inc.; Ajinomoto USA, Inc.; Orsan S.A.; Cheil Jedang Corporation; C.J. America, Inc., Defendants/Appellees,

Miwon Company, Ltd.; Daesang America, Inc., Defendants,

Takeda Chemical Industries, Ltd.; Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Company, Ltd.; Vedan Enterprises Group, formerly known as Tung Hai Fermentation Industrial Corporation, Defendants/Appellees,

Ajinomoto Europe, Defendant.

Government of Japan, Amicus on Behalf of Appellee.

Nos. 05-4303, 05-4307.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

Feb. 8, 2007

Submitted: Dec. 11, 2006.

Page 536

Richard A. Lockridge, argued, Minneapolis, MN (Heidi M. Silton, Samuel D. Heins and Susan E. MacMenamin, Minneapolis, MN, on the brief, Michael D. Hausfeld and Brian A. Ratner, Washington, DC, on the brief), for appellant.

Ruth E. Harlow, argued, New York, NY (Lawrence Byrne, Lance Croffoot-Suede, Martin S. Bloor, A. Paul Victor, James F. Lerner, and Christopher V. Roberts, New York, NY, on the brief, Joseph T. Dixon, Jr., Scott A. Neilson, William L. Greene, Skip Dorocher, Eric A. Ruzicka, and Michael A. Lindsay, Minneapolis, MN, on the brief, Barry F. McNeil, Ronald W. Breaux, and Jacqueline K. Shipchandler, Dallas, TX, on the brief, Michael R. Lazerwitz and Steven J. Kaiser, Washington, DC, on the brief), for appellee.

Before WOLLMAN, BEAM, and RILEY, Circuit Judges.

WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.

Appellants appeal from the district court's 1 dismissal of their complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We affirm.

I.

The appellants are foreign corporations that purchased monosodium glutamate (MSG) and nucleotides from the appellees in transactions that occurred outside the United States. They contend that the appellees participated in a global price-fixing and market allocation scheme to increase the worldwide price of MSG and nucleotides. This scheme allegedly involved fixing the price and controlling the market share of MSG and nucleotides both inside and outside the United States. The appellants assert that the United States market was included within the scheme because the fungible nature and worldwide flow of these products made the domestic and foreign markets interconnected, such that super-competitive

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prices abroad could be sustained only by maintaining super-competitive prices in the United States.

The appellants' action asserted that the appellees' involvement in the global conspiracy constituted a violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1. The appellants do not assert that they purchased or attempted to purchase MSG or nucleotides in the United States market. Rather, they allege that they purchased overpriced MSG and nucleotides abroad because the appellees' inclusion of the United States market in the conspiracy prevented them from buying competitively priced MSG and nucleotides either directly from the United States or from arbitrageurs selling MSG or nucleotides imported from the United States.

Shortly after the commencement of this action, the parties agreed to stay the proceedings pending a decision by the United States Supreme Court in F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. v. Empagran S.A., 542 U.S. 155, 124 S.Ct. 2359, 159 L.Ed.2d 226 (2004) (Empagran I), a factually similar antitrust case brought by foreign and domestic purchasers of vitamins. Following the Empagran I decision, which addressed the applicability of the Sherman Act under the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act of 1982 (FTAIA), the appellees moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim, alleging that the FTAIA precluded the claim from being brought under the Sherman Act. The district court denied the appellees' motion. D. Ct. Order of May 2, 2005, at 14. Following the D.C. Circuit's decision in Empagran S.A. v. F. Hoffmann-LaRoche, Ltd., 417 F.3d 1267 (D.C.Cir.2005), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 126 S.Ct. 1043, 163 L.Ed.2d 857 (2006) (Empagran II), the appellees filed a motion for reconsideration of the district court's order denying their motion to dismiss. The district court, relying on Empagran II, granted the motion and dismissed the complaint with prejudice, holding that the appellants had not stated a claim under the Sherman Act because they had not shown that the domestic effect of the global price-fixing cartel proximately caused their injuries. D. Ct. Order of Oct. 26, 2005, at 6-7.

II.

We review a district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction de novo. V S Ltd. P'ship v. Dep't of Housing and Urban Dev., 235 F.3d 1109, 1112 (8th Cir.2000).

"The Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act of 1982 (FTAIA) excludes from the Sherman Act's reach much anticompetitive conduct that causes only foreign injury. It does so by setting forth a general rule stating that the Sherman Act 'shall not apply to conduct involving trade or commerce ... with foreign nations.' " Empagran I, 542 U.S. at 158, 124 S.Ct. 2359 (ellipsis in original) (quoting 15 U.S.C. § 6a). The FTAIA then creates a limited exception to this rule, making the Sherman Act applicable if the foreign conduct "(1) has a 'direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect' on domestic commerce, and (2) 'such effect gives rise to a [Sherman Act] claim.' " Id. at 159, 124 S.Ct. 2359 (quoting 15 U.S.C. § 6a). 2

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In dismissing the appellants' action, the district court concluded that 1) the FTAIA's statutory language "gives rise to" requires that the appellants show that the domestic effects of the anticompetitive conduct were the direct or proximate cause of their claim, 2) the appellants' claim failed to satisfy this causation standard, and 3) the appellants therefore failed to state a claim under the Sherman Act. D. Ct. Order of Oct. 26, 2005, at 4-7. On appeal, the appellants contend that under the FTAIA's exception a showing of causation less than that of proximate cause is sufficient and that their claim meets this lesser standard. The appellants alternatively contend that their claim satisfies even the proximate cause standard.

In Empagran I, the United States Supreme Court concluded that the causal link between the domestic effect of the anticompetitive conduct and the foreign injury is...

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