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The Franchise Memorandum

District Court Dismisses Truck Distributor's Sherman Act §1 Claims
Posted in Antitrust

A Pennsylvania federal court recently ordered summary dismissal of a discounting garbage truck distributor’s antitrust claims against Mack Trucks, Inc. for violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The court, however, did allow some of the claims of both parties to proceed. RDK Truck Sales and Service, Inc. v. Mack Trucks, Inc., 2009 WL 1441578 (E.D. Pa. May 19, 2009).

Plaintiff RDK is an independent distributor of garbage trucks, including Mack trucks. It markets itself by “aggressively advertising low prices nationwide,” though its only service facility is in Tampa. Mack has 137 dealers with 200 locations.  RDK alleged three unlawful agreements: (1) that Mack conspired with its dealers to deny RDK access to highly discounted Mack trucks; (2) that Mack conspired with co-defendants McNeilus Truck Manufacturing, Inc. and Heil Environmental Industries, Ltd., two of the biggest makers of garbage truck bodies (which are fitted to Mack chassis and are tailored for specific uses), to have them refuse to sell Mack “ready trucks” to RDK; and (3) that Mack entered into another three-way agreement with McNeilus and Heil to ensure that neither would sell to established customers of Mack dealers, the kind of customer RDK asserted itself to be. In granting summary judgment for the defendants on these claims, the district court held that RDK failed to provide sufficient evidence of any of the alleged agreements to create a triable issue, and that the circumstantial evidence proffered by RDK did not tend to show the existence of such agreements rather than lawful independent—though parallel—action. The court contrasted RDK’s lack of evidence with the direct evidence of conspiracy found in Toledo Mack v. Mack Trucks, Inc., which was summarized in Issue 110 of The GPMemorandum.

RDK was allowed to proceed on claims under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and for tortious interference. RDK also failed to obtain summary dismissal of most of Mack’s counterclaims, which accused RDK of civil conspiracy and violation of the Florida DUTPA by defrauding Mack into giving RDK the benefit of certain discounts to which it was not entitled.

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