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ZF Meritor LLC v. Eaton Corp.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

June 5, 2014

ZF MERITOR LLC and MERITOR TRANSMISSION CORPORATION, Plaintiffs,
v.
EATON CORPORATION, Defendant

For ZF Meritor LLC, Plaintiff: Joseph C. Schoell, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lindsay B. Orr, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Wilmington, DE; Ann-Marie Luciano, PRO HAC VICE; Charles E. Luftig, Pro Hac Vice; Christopher H. Wood, PRO HAC VICE; E. Michelle Tupper, PRO HAC VICE; Jennifer D. Hackett, Pro Hac Vice; Justin W. Lamson, PRO HAC VICE; Meredith Graham Robinson, PRO HAC VICE; Paul R. Taskier, PRO HAC VICE; R. Bruce Holcomb, Pro Hac Vice.

For Meritor Transmission Corporation, Plaintiff: Joseph C. Schoell, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lindsay B. Orr, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Wilmington, DE.

For Eaton Corporation, Defendant: Donald E. Reid, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE; Alfred C. Pfeiffer, Jr., PRO HAC VICE; Andrew Gass, PRO HAC VICE; Andrew D. Lazerow, PRO HAC VICE; Arthur T. Farrell, PRO HAC VICE; Erik T. Koons, PRO HAC VICE; Joseph A. Ostoyich, PRO HAC VICE; Sarah M. Ray, PRO HAC VICE; Theodore B. Olson, PRO HAC VICE; Thomas G. Hungar, PRO HAC VICE; William C. Lavery, PRO HAC VICE.

Page 487

MEMORANDUM

SUE L. ROBINSON, United States District Judge.

At Wilmington this 5th day of June, 2014, having reviewed defendant Eaton Corporation's (" Eaton" ) motion for summary judgment, the papers submitted in connection therewith, and the arguments of counsel; the court issues its decision consistent with the reasoning that follows:

1. Background.

This case has a long history, virtually none of which will be repeated here. Suffice it to say that plaintiffs ultimately prevailed in proving that they suffered anitrust injury at the hands of Eaton,[1] and the trial on damages is scheduled to commence on June 23, 2014. The pending motion for summary judgment is the latest skirmish between the parties relating to the viability of plaintiffs' damages calculations. More specifically, the parties dispute whether it is appropriate for plaintiffs' expert to have considered damages from the cumulative perspective of an " overall anticipated business," as opposed to having calculated damages for each plaintiff based on its individualized injuries. The court has jurisdiction to resolve this dispute pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

2. Legal standard.

As noted by the Third Circuit on appeal, " in the antitrust context, a damages award not only benefits the plaintiff, it also fosters competition and furthers the interests of the public by imposing a severe penalty (treble damages) for violation of the antitrust laws." ZF Meritor v. Eaton, 696 F.3d at 300. In calculating such an award for a plaintiff who seeks recovery for injuries from a partial or total exclusion from a market, courts have recognized that " damage issues in these cases are rarely susceptible of the kind of concrete, detailed proof of injury which is available in other contexts." Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc., 395 U.S. 100, 123, 89 S.Ct. 1562, 23 L.Ed.2d 129 (1969). Nevertheless, damages may not be determined by " mere speculation or guess," Story Parchment Co. v. Paterson Parchment Paper Co., 282 U.S. 555, 563, 51 S.Ct. 248, 75 L.Ed. 544 (1931), but must be grounded at a minimum on assumptions that rest on " adequate bases." Terrell v. Household Goods Carriers' Bureau, 494 F.2d 16, 24 (5th Cir. 1974).

Page 488

3. In this regard, the parties are in agreement with

[t]he principle that an antitrust plaintiff may recover both actual lost profits and diminution in the value of its business . . . . Where plaintiff has been forced out of business, however, it is awarded its going-concern value or its projected future lost profits, but not both.

Coastal Fuels of Puerto Rico, Inc. v. Caribbean Petroleum Corp., 175 F.3d 18, 27 (1st Cir. 1999) (citation omitted). The court in Coastal Fuels concluded that the better damages model for a company no longer in business was a calculation of the business' going-concern value " evaluated as of the time plaintiff goes out of ...


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