People For the American Way

Trump Judge Casts Deciding Vote to Affirm Dismissal of Antitrust Complaint: Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears

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Trump Judge Casts Deciding Vote to Affirm Dismissal of Antitrust Complaint: Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears

Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears” is a blog series documenting the harmful impact of President Trump’s judges on Americans’ rights and liberties. Cases in the series can be found by issue and by judge at this link.

Trump Ninth Circuit judge Ryan Nelson cast the deciding vote to affirm a lower court’s dismissal of an antitrust claim that two large electronics companies conspired to avoid hiring each other’s employees, thus holding down salaries, without a trial or any other proceedings. The March 2020 case is Frost v. LG Electronics Inc.

 Two former employees of LG Electronics Inc. filed a class action complaint contending that beginning in 2005, LG and Samsung Electronics Company entered into an agreement not to hire each other’s employees, which would violate antitrust law and hold down workers’ salaries and other compensation. But a lower court dismissed the complaint on its face, without a trial or even any discovery, maintaining that the complaint did not “plausibly allege” that there was an illegal conspiracy between the two large companies.

On appeal to the Ninth Circuit, Nelson was the deciding vote on a 2-1 panel that affirmed the decision. The majority argued that the complaint did not specifically allege “who, did what, to whom (or with whom), where, and when” as stated in a previous Ninth Circuit decision.

Judge William Fletcher strongly dissented. He pointed out that the complaint specifically described statements documenting the agreement by employees of the two companies which were clearly enough to “plausibly ‘suggest that an agreement was made,’” quoting the same case as the majority. Fletcher would have reversed the lower court and sent the case back for further proceedings.

As a result of Nelson’s deciding vote, however, former employees of the two large electronics companies will not even have a chance to prove their claims of harmful antitrust violations. The decision is yet another example of votes by Trump judges that help large companies and harm workers and consumers.