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High Prices Alone for a Service Is Not an Antitrust Violation
Description Appeals court upheld dismissal of an antitrust suit brought by a real estate broker against the operator of a countywide real estate multiple listing service. For there to be an antitrust violation, there must be more than a claim that the price charged by the service is "excessive."
Topic Antitrust
Key Words Restraint of Trade; Excessive Price; Multiple Listing Service
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Freeman, a real estate broker, sued the San Diego real estate broker's association, which ran the county-wide real estate multiple listing service (MLS), claiming assorted antitrust violations, including price fixing, tying, and market exclusion or group boycott claims. Freeman claimed that the MLS service has substantial market power, allowing it to drive up prices for its service and exclude some brokers from obtaining certain MLS benefits. The trial court dismissed the claims, holding that Freeman failed to show unlawful price fixing or an illegal tying arrangement or a group boycott of her services. Freeman appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The fact that the MLS engages in "unilateral pricing decisions" does not violate the Sherman Act. "Furthermore, Section 2 of the Sherman Act is not violated merely because the holder of a monopoly charges high prices." There must be "predatory" conduct to attain or perpetuate a monopoly for a monopolist to violate Section 2. There is no antitrust claim based only on an allegation that a monopolist's "excessive price" for its service restrains trade.
Citation Freeman v. San Diego Association of Realtors, 91 Cal.Rptr.2d 534 (Ct. App., Calif., 1999)

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