Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation

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Dick McClary submitted an application for health insurance to Golden Rule Insurance Company that failed to disclose proposed insured Patti Denney’s preexisting condition. Golden Rule issued a policy covering Denney, but later denied coverage for a proposed surgery based on the fact that the conditions documented in Denney’s medical records were not disclosed in her insurance application. The Kansas Insurance Department imposed sanctions on Golden Rule for unfair claim settlement practices, concluding that Golden Rule had wrongfully denied Denney coverage for a medically necessary procedure. The district court affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that McClary was not acting as Golden Rule’s soliciting agent when he submitted Denney’s health insurance application. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the court of appeals’ decision on the agency question, as substantial evidence supported the conclusion that McClary had the actual authority to solicit and submit applications directly to Golden Rule; and (2) reversed the Department and the district court on their ruling that Golden Rule violated Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-2404(9)(f) but affirmed the finding of a violation of subsection (d); and (3) affirmed the Department’s remedy. View "Golden Rule Ins. Co. v. Tomlinson" on Justia Law

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Named plaintiff Sue O'Brien and a class of similarly situated consumers (O'Brien) sued the maker of Brighton handbags, other accessories, and luggage, defendant Leegin Creative Leather Products (Brighton), alleging violations of the Kansas Restraint of Trade Act. O'Brien contended that Brighton's practices as a wholesale supplier and retailer constituted illegal price-fixing, entitling her and other class members to recovery. The district judge granted Brighton's motion for summary judgment and motion for partial summary judgment in part. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding, inter alia, (1) the district judge erred in his demand for proof of a "concrete injury," which required reversal of summary judgment; (2) Brighton was not entitled to summary judgment under a "rule of reason," which is not applied in a price-fixing action brought under the relevant statutes; (3) the district judge erred in ruling that the claims of the plaintiff class did not involve horizontal price-fixing; and (4) the district judge correctly determined that a genuine issue of material fact remained for trial on the issue of whether there was an unlawful combination or arrangement between Brighton and its retailers who had no express agreements as Heart Stores or luggage sellers. View "O'Brien v. Leegin Creative Leather Prods., Inc." on Justia Law

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After allowing discovery on the issue of whether Kansas courts could exercise personal jurisdiction over some of the defendants in this case, the district court granted defendant Tel-Instrument Electronics Corp.'s (TIC) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. At issue on interlocutory appeal was the correct standard for judging a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction when that motion is decided after discovery but without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) plaintiff Aeroflex Wichita, as the party with the ultimate burden of establishing jurisdiction and as the party responding to a motion to dismiss presented to the court without an evidentiary hearing, need only establish a prima facie basis for jurisdiction; (2) in determining if that prima facie burden has been met, a district court should view factual disputes in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and an appellate court applies the same standard de novo; and (3) in this case, the district court erred erred by weighing the evidence rather than granting all favorable inferences to Aeroflex, and Aeroflex presented a prima facie case of jurisdiction based on a conspiracy between TIC and its codefendants, over whom the court had jurisdiction. View "Aeroflex Wichita, Inc. v. Filardo" on Justia Law

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The case involved a manufacturer of conveyor pizza ovens, Wolfe Electric, its former employee, Terry Duckworth, and the competing business Duckworth helped form, Global Cooking Systems. Wolfe Electric brought suit against Duckworth and Global Cooking for misappropriation of secrets under the Kansas Uniform Trade Secrets Act. Wolfe Electric also separately alleged Duckworth breached his fiduciary duty and his employment contract while Global allegedly tortiously interfered with Duckworth's employment contract. A jury found for Wolfe Electric on all causes of action and awarded damages in a variety of categories. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that multiple erroneous jury instructions and a verdict that failed to specify which of the innumerable acts alleged actually caused which of the particular damages awarded required reversal. Remanded. View "Wolfe Elec., Inc. v. Duckworth" on Justia Law

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Progressive Products, Inc. (PPI) filed a four-count complaint in district court against Defendants, former employees of PPI, on various theories alleging Defendants misappropriated protected trade secrets. The trade secrets at issue were a formula, computerized customer lists, and a computerized pricing program. The district court entered judgment for PPI, holding that Defendants misappropriated protected trade secrets possessed by PPI. The court then imposed a royalty injunction on Defendants. The court of appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) PPI owned protected trade secrets relating to the formula, (2) the price lists were not trade secrets as a matter of law, (3) no evidence supported a finding the customer lists were a trade secret, and (4) the royalty injunction was not supported by the district court's factual findings and did not comport with the available statutory remedies. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' judgment regarding the protected trade secrets but reversed the court of appeals' opinion reversing the remedy the district court ordered, holding that because the district court's findings were incomplete, they did not permit meaningful appellate review. Remanded. View "Progressive Products, Inc. v. Swartz" on Justia Law