5th Circ. Steel Boycott Ruling Likely To Be Controversial
On Nov. 25, 2015, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in MM Steel LP v. JSW Steel (USA), 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 20520, affirmed a $156 million antitrust jury verdict against a steel manufacturer in a Sherman Act Section 1 case. The jury in the court below had found that the plaintiff steel distributor was forced out of business when two of its competitors conspired to pressure certain steel manufacturers not to supply it with steel. The Fifth Circuit’s opinion accepted a framework for evaluating group boycotts and concerted refusals to deal that sets a low bar for future plaintiffs and calls into question the circumstances in which a manufacturer can pursue its own self-interest in choosing to deal with incumbent customers who threaten not to purchase its products if it sells to their competitors.