SW Legal studies in Business

Claim Failed to Establish Relevant Geographic Market
Description

Appeals court held that a claim against each cemetery in Michigan for tying the sale of burial plots to headstones failed because each cemetery is not the relevant geographic market; while each cemetery has some power, there is competition in the market as a whole.

Topic Antitrust
Key Words

Sherman Act; Geographic Market; Tying Arrangement

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Three independent monument builders and a trade association of monument buildings sued 20 cemetery operators and the Michigan Cemetery Association for an unlawful combination and conspiracy to restrain trade and engage in unlawful tying arrangements in the sale and installation of burial plots to the sale of memorials and monuments. The district court dismissed the action; appeal was filed.

Decision

Affirmed in part; vacated and remanded in part. The proposed geographic market of each individual cemetery in Michigan was too narrow to support the builders’ claims. A geographic market must correspond to the commercial realities of the industry and be economically significant. While each cemetery has market power when it works with a client, there is competition in the industry. The case will be remanded to district court largely on procedural grounds.

Citation

Michigan Division-Monument Builders of North America v. Michigan Cemetery Assn., ---F.3d--- (2008 WL 1901246, 6th Cir., 2008)

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