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Can a terminated employee file an antitrust claim?

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In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission challenged the proposed merger because it would consolidate the “Big 4” dominating the U.S. title insurance industry into three main players and would likely cause anticompetitive harm. In the end, the merger fell through.

The plaintiff sued Stewart, Chicago Title, Fidelity, and Fidelity’s executive vice president. He made an antitrust claim. He alleged the following:

  • Stewart violated the Cartwright Act by conspiring with Fidelity and Chicago Title to restrict competition in wind, solar, and renewable energy projects among them
  • While the merger was pending, the companies agreed to allocate customers and to refrain from competing for each other’s clients so that Stewart could maintain its market share, earnings, and customer base
  • The companies attempted to restrain the plaintiff’s sales tactics to prevent him from competing with Stewart for clients
  • He would have brought several of Stewart’s clients to Chicago Title if the companies had let him compete in the way that he wanted
  • Stewart tortiously interfered with his contractual relations and with his prospective economic advantage

Ex-employee’s antitrust claim fails

Stewart filed a summary judgment motion. The trial court granted summary judgment in its favor.

In the case of Ahn v. Stewart Title Guaranty Company, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

To sue under the Cartwright Act, someone should have suffered “antitrust injury” and harm stemming from the anticompetitive aspect of the defendant’s alleged conduct.

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