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Seventh Circuit allows potash FTAIA case to move forward

 |  June 28, 2012

The Seventh Circuit sitting en banc has unanimously held that potash purchasers stated a claim under federal antitrust laws. Potash is a mineral used in fertilizers; as a homogenous commodity, purchasers use price to choose between suppliers. Purchasers led by Minn-Chem claim that seven potash producers (Agrium, Potash Corp., Mosaic, Uralkali, Belaruskali, Silvinit, and IPC) conspired in a global cartel to raise prices from 2003 to 2008. According to the complaint, prices were inflated through restrained output, excess capacity, and joint ventures to exchange information and monitor compliance with the cartel.

Judge Wood, writing for the court, relied on Morrison to interpret the FTAIA as setting forth an element of an antitrust claim, “not a jurisdictional limit on the power of the federal courts.” She then went on to find that the conduct at issue had a “direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect” on U.S. commerce. The “direct” prong can be met when plaintiffs show “a reasonably proximate causal nexus,” an approach used by the DOJ.

A panel had dismissed the case in September 2011, holding that the complaint failed to meet FTAIA requirements. Today’s decision overturns the earlier judgment.

Full content: Opinion (PDF)


Related contentNew Lessons for Pleading the FTAIA


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