Civil Antitrust Litigation Continues to Decline
The latest available data from the federal courts show that during May 2019 the government reported only 47 new antitrust civil cases filed in the federal courts. According to the case-by-case court records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, there were just 357 antitrust suits for the first eight months of FY 2019. This is the third year such suits have declined under the Trump administration, down by about a third (32.4%) since FY 2016. See Table 1.
During May, only two antitrust suits were brought by the federal government. The first suit was brought in the District of Columbia against Amcor Ltd. seeking divestiture of three manufacturing medical packaging product facilities in order to proceed with the proposed acquisition of Bennis Company, Inc. The second suit was filed in Nevada against the Las Vegas Merchant Plumbers Association and others.
Most antitrust suits, however, are brought by private parties and are filed in the federal courts because of federal questions they raise. Only 20 out of the 357 suits brought thus far in FY 2019 were brought by the federal government.
If the current pace of filings continues during the remaining months of FY 2019, antitrust filings are projected to only reach 536 this year. Last year there were 567 suits. Filing trends since FY 2008 are shown in Figure 1. The comparisons of the number of these civil filings are based on case-by-case federal court records which were compiled and analyzed by TRAC.
Figure 1. Federal Civil Antitrust Lawsuits Filed
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Where Are Antitrust Suits Being Filed?
One out of every four suits filed this fiscal year have been in just two judicial districts. These two are centered in two major metropolitan areas - the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) and the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
The next districts with the most suits were: the Southern District of Florida (Miami), the Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit), and the District of Columbia. More than four out of every ten antitrust suits were filed this year in just these top five districts.
There were a total of 55 federal district courts (out of 94) which had at least one antitrust suit this year. These are shown below in Table 2.
Each month, TRAC offers a free report focused on one area of civil litigation in the U.S. district courts. In addition, subscribers to the TRACFed data service can generate custom reports by district, office, nature of suit or federal jurisdiction via the TRAC Data Interpreter.