Wednesday, November 30, 2005

E.D. Pa. Holds that Clayton Act's Venue Clause Is Exclusive When Suing Domestic Defendants

Addressing an issue that has divided the circuits and that the Third Circuit has yet to address, the court in Cumberland Truck Equipment Co. v. Detroit Diesel Corp., --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2005 WL 3054548 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 14, 2005) has held that a plaintiff suing a domestic defendant for antitrust violations must use the Clayton Act's venue clause exclusively. However, the court also held that the plaintiff may establish venue for an alien defendant pursuant to the general alien venue statute, 28 U.S.C. Section 1391(d):

The issue of which statutes govern proper venue in antitrust cases against corporate defendants is hotly contested not only by the parties, but also by federal courts throughout the country. Courts have adopted three distinct approaches for assessing proper venue when a plaintiff asserts personal jurisdiction pursuant to Section 12. First, some courts suggest that a plaintiff suing a domestic defendant for antitrust violations must use the Section 12 venue clause exclusively, but allow a plaintiff suing an alien defendant to use the general alien venue statute, 28 U.S.C. ยง 1391(d), to supplement the Section 12 venue clause. See, e.g., In re Automotive Refinishing, Civ. A. No. MDL-1426, 2002 WL 31261330, at *9 (E.D.Pa. July 31, 2002), aff'd 358 F.3d 288 (3d Cir.2004); Gen. Elec. Co. v. Bucyrus-Erie Co., 550 F.Supp. 1037, 1040 (S.D.N.Y.1982). A second set of courts allow plaintiffs to establish venue under Section 12 or an alternative general venue source interchangeably. See, e.g., New York v. Morton Salt Co., 266 F.Supp. 570, 574-75 (E.D.Pa.1967); Phila. Hous. Auth. v. Am. Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corp., 291 F.Supp. 252, 255 (E.D.Pa.1968). Finally, other courts find that the Section 12 venue clause is the exclusive venue provision for all defendants, alien and domestic, and it preempts the general venue statutes. See, e.g., GTE New Media Servs. Inc. v. Bellsouth Corp., 199 F.3d 1343, 1351 (D.C.Cir.2000); Mgmt. Insights, Inc. v. CIC Enters., Inc., 194 F.Supp.2d 520, 532 (N.D.Tex.2001).

The Third Circuit's decision in Automotive Refinishing suggests that this Circuit would adopt the first approach, allowing Section 12's venue clause to be supplemented for alien but not domestic defendants.


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