9th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment Against Dealer’s Robinson-Patman and Sherman Act Claims Based on Manufacturer’s Preferential Pricing to Competitor

On July 19, 2013, in Gorlick Distribution Centers, LLC v. Allied Exhaust Systems, Inc., No. 10-36083 (9th Cir. July 19, 2013), the 9th Circuit affirmed a district court decision granting Allied summary judgment against Gorlick’s Robinson–Patman Act and Sherman Act claims asserting that Allied received better pricing for the same auto parts Gorlick purchased from the same manufacturer. With respect to the Robinson-Patman Act claim, the 9th Circuit ruled that (1) even if Allied knew it was obtaining better pricing, Allied did not violate Section 2(f) of the Robinson-Patman Act unless Gorlick could show (which it did not) that Allied knew the prices Allied received likely did not qualify for a Robinson-Patman Act defense; (2) Gorlick failed to demonstrate that Allied knew that the lower prices it received were unwarranted; and (3) Allied had not induced the lower prices and therefore had no duty to inquire about prices offered to competitors.

In granting summary judgment against the Sherman Act claim, the court relied on Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v PSKS, Inc., 551 U.S. (2007), to apply the rule of reason and conclude that Gorlick failed to show or explain how “the alleged agreement between a manufacturer and a distributor, concerning a product line without market dominance, causes harm to competition in the entire automotive exhaust product market.” The decision is available here.