District Court Permits Plaintiffs to Provide Limited Details in Complaint about Assignments of Claims on which Standing is based, but Requires Proffer on Satisfaction of FTAIA Requirements

The World in U.S. Courts: Winter 2016 - Antitrust/Competition/Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA)

In Re: Lithium Ion Batteries Antitrust Litigation, US District Court for the Northern District of California, October 4, 2016

Plaintiffs in this sprawling class action claim to have been injured by price-fixing among leading manufacturers of lithium batteries.  The case is based in part on assignments of claims that certain plaintiffs received from their subsidiaries and affiliates—presumably ones that purchased the batteries directly from the defendants and thus had standing to bring federal antitrust claims.  Defendant Toshiba companies moved to dismiss, arguing that the complaint was deficient because it failed to provide details about the nature of the claims allegedly possessed by the entities that assigned their rights.  The Court concluded that the plaintiffs’ mere identification of the subsidiaries and affiliates was sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss, and that details about the rights assigned could be filled in through discovery.  But it added that the FTAIA was potentially implicated by the claims, and ordered the plaintiffs to provide additional information demonstrating why the claims satisfied the statute’s requirements that the defendants’ conduct involve “import trade or commerce,” or otherwise had a "direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect" on American domestic commerce that "gives rise to a claim" under the Sherman Act.

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