Sunday, February 21, 2010

Second Circuit Reaffirms Tough View of Matsushita Standard

Per U.S. Information Systems, Inc. v. International Broth. of Elec. Workers Local Union Number 3 Slip Copy, 2010 WL 571769 (2d Cir. Feb. 19, 2010):

Here, the district court articulated the correct summary judgment standard when it said that “ ‘[t]o survive a motion for summary judgment ..., a plaintiff seeking damages for a violation of § 1 [of the Sherman Act] must present evidence “that tends to exclude the possibility” that the alleged conspirators acted independently.’ “ U.S. Info. Sys., Inc. v. Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers Local Union No. 3, No. 00 Civ. 4763(RMB)(JCF), 2007 WL 2746902, at *2, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69760, at *8 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 18, 2007) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588 (1986)) (alterations in U.S. Info. Sys.). The appellants argue that the Supreme Court altered this standard in Eastman Kodak Co. v. Image Technical Services, 504 U.S. 451 (1992), by stating that “ Matsushita demands only that the nonmoving party's inferences be reasonable in order to reach the jury,” id. at 468. We disagree. This language explains the Matsushita standard. It does not alter it. This view is supported by Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), where the Supreme Court cited Matsushita for the proposition that “at the summary judgment stage a [Sherman Act] § 1 plaintiff's offer of conspiracy evidence must tend to rule out the possibility that the defendants were acting independently,” id. at 554.

Here, the district court properly granted summary judgment to the appellees after concluding that “it is equally plausible that [the non-Local 3 appellees] acted in their own self-interest independent of Local 3 and of one another.” U.S. Info. Sys., Inc., 2007 WL 2746902, at *2, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69760, at *8 (internal quotation marks omitted).


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