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Judge Denies Alcon’s Motion for Summary Judgment in Antitrust Case

 |  July 10, 2024

Eye care products giant Alcon Inc. will face antitrust claims in a case alleging that it conspired to fix the price of disposable contact lenses sold in the U.S. In a significant legal development, Senior Judge Harvey E. Schlesinger of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida denied Alcon’s motion for summary judgment, ensuring that the case will proceed to trial.

The plaintiff, Lens.com, has accused Alcon of inhibiting it from selling Alcon-branded lenses, thereby forcing consumers to purchase higher-priced options. In his Tuesday order, Judge Schlesinger indicated that Lens.com presented sufficient antitrust evidence suggesting that Alcon’s actions may have restricted competition in the market.

This ruling represents a considerable setback for Alcon, one of the nation’s largest lens manufacturers, which has maintained that there was no evidence of any illegal agreement. The company now faces the prospect of a full trial to address these antitrust claims.

The class-action lawsuit originated in 2015 and was later consolidated in a complaint filed in the Florida district court in 2017. The complaint alleges that four major companies, including Alcon, conspired with each other, ABB Optical Group (their common distributor), the American Optometric Association, and certain independent eye care professionals to enforce mandatory pricing schemes. These actions reportedly date back to 2013.

The case has drawn attention due to its potential implications for the contact lens market, particularly concerning pricing practices and competitive dynamics. The outcome could have far-reaching effects on how eye care products are sold and priced in the U.S.

The legal battle continues as both parties prepare for the next phase of the proceedings, with Lens.com aiming to prove its allegations of anti-competitive behavior and Alcon seeking to defend its business practices.

Source: News Bloomberg Law