SW Legal studies in Business

Firm Lacked Standing to Sue Competitor That Controlled Most of Market
Description Appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a suit brought by a new competitor in the billboard market in Boston. One firm dominated the market because of the regulatory scheme that controlled the market. That did not give standing for the new competitor to attack the dominant position of that firm.
Topic Antitrust
Key Words Standing; Injury
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts AK controls over ninety percent of the billboards in the Boston area. RSA was a new entrant into the outdoor advertising market. The billboard market is regulated by federal, state and local rules making it nearly impossible to obtain a permit to build a new billboard, so the number is nearly fixed. Besides needing a permit to have a billboard, one must negotiate a lease with the owner of the property on which the billboard sits. RSA sued AK for monopolizing the billboard market, contending that AK was aggressive in maintaining its share of the market. If a property owner discussed leasing their property to RSA instead of AK, AK would tell the landlord that it would tear down their billboard, which usually meant that there could not be another one erected, since AK owned the permit to have a billboard at that location. The district court dismissed the suit; holding that RSA lacked standing. RSA appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. To determine whether a plaintiff has standing to bring an antitrust action, a court considers: "(1) the causal connection between the alleged antitrust violation and harm to the plaintiff; (2) an improper motive; (3) the nature of the plaintiff's alleged injury and whether the injury was of a type that Congress sought to redress with the antitrust laws; (4) the directness with which the alleged market restraints caused the asserted injury; (5) the speculative nature of the damages; and (6) the risk of duplicative recovery or complex apportionment of damages." The fact that AK threatened landlords that it would destroy billboards rather than sell them and would hold unused permits rather than abandon or transfer them are a result of the highly regulated nature of the billboard market that makes it nearly impossible to obtain a permit to build a new billboard. RSA was not excluded from the market by AK but by the regulation of the market.

Citation RSA Media, Inc. v. AK Media Group, Inc., 260 F.3d 10 (1st Cir., 2001)

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