977 F.Supp. 1263 (N.D.Tex. 1996), 495-CV-880, Stearns Airport Equipment Co., Inc. v. FMC Corp.

Docket Nº:495-CV-880
Citation:977 F.Supp. 1263
Party Name:Stearns Airport Equipment Co., Inc. v. FMC Corp.
Case Date:May 31, 1996
Court:United States District Courts, 5th Circuit, Northern District of Texas

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977 F.Supp. 1263 (N.D.Tex. 1996)




No. 4:95-CV-880-A.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division.

May 31, 1996

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Eric Nevins Whitney, Lynn Stodghill Melsheimer & Tillotson, Dallas, TX, Robert William Kantner, Cynthia Lee Dow, Baker & Botts, Dallas, TX, for Stearns Airport Equipment Co., Inc.

Walter Andrew Herring, Fulbright & Jaworski, Dallas, TX, Layne E. Kruse, Frank Griffith Jones, Fulbright & Jaworski, Houston, TX, Hugh Gottschalk, Terence M. Ridley, Otten Johnson, Robinson Neff & Ragonetti, Denver, CO, for FMC Corp.


McBRYDE, District Judge.

Came on for consideration the motion of defendant, FMC Corporation, for partial summary judgment. The court, having considered the motion, the response of plaintiff, Stearns Airport Equipment Co., Inc., the record, the summary judgment evidence, and applicable authorities, finds that the motion should be granted in part.


Plaintiff's Claims

On December 4, 1995, plaintiff filed its original complaint in this action. On April 30, 1996, having first obtained leave of court, plaintiff filed its first amended complaint. In it, plaintiff asserts five causes of action, to wit: violations of § 2 of the Sherman Act (count one), price discrimination in violation of § 2(a) of the Robinson-Patman Act (count two), violations of § 1 of the Sherman Act (count three), unfair competition (count four), and tortious interference (count five). Plaintiff alleges that it and defendant are competitors in the business of manufacturing passenger boarding bridges and walkways for airports and that they are, for all practical purposes, the only competitors in the market for these products in the United States. Plaintiff alleges that defendant, which commands an eighty percent share of the market, has engaged in conduct designed to drive plaintiff from the market.


Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

Defendant seeks judgment as a matter of law that plaintiff take nothing on its claims set forth in counts two, three, four, and five. Defendant maintains that summary judgment is appropriate for the following reasons: As to count two, the Robinson-Patman Act does not apply to sales to governmental entities and can only apply to sales of "commodities of like grade and quality." As to count three, there is no conspiracy when a buyer decides to award a contract to a seller and, even if a conspiracy could be shown in this case, application of such theory is barred by the Noerr-Pennington Doctrine. As to counts four and five, the claims of unfair competition and tortious interference are preempted by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. And, finally, defendant urges that it cannot be held liable for any conduct prior to May 27, 1994, the date it first entered the business of manufacturing and selling passenger boarding bridges.


Applicable Summary Judgment Principles

A party is entitled to summary judgment on all or any part of a claim as to which there is no genuine issue of material fact and as to which the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509-10, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The moving party has the initial burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256, 106 S.Ct. at 2514. The movant may discharge this burden by pointing out the absence of evidence to support one or more

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essential elements the non-moving party's claim "since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Once the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), the non-moving party must do more than merely show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1355-56, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). The party opposing the motion may not rest on mere allegations or denials of pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 256, 106 S.Ct. at 2510, 2514. To meet this burden, the nonmovant must "identify specific evidence in the record and articulate the 'precise manner' in which that evidence support[s] [its] claim[s]." Forsyth v. Barr, 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 871, 115 S.Ct. 195, 130 L.Ed.2d 127 (1994). An issue is material only if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510. Unsupported allegations, conclusory in nature, are insufficient to defeat a proper motion for summary judgment. Simmons v. Lyons, 746 F.2d 265, 269 (5th Cir. 1984).

The standard for granting a summary judgment is the same as the standard for a directed verdict. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. at 2552-53. If the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for...

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