Defendant cable company, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), moved to dismiss the complaint alleging violations of Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 2, filed by plaintiff television station. Defendant asserted that U.S. Const. amend. I was a complete bar to plaintiff’s claims.
Plaintiff television station sued defendant cable company for antitrust violations for failing to carry its station. Defendant alleged that its decision not to carry the station was protected under U.S. Const. amend. I. The court held that the First Amendment was not a shield to protect predatory conduct. Plaintiff alleged that the basis of defendant’s conduct was to inhibit competition. This was a properly pleaded antitrust violation, not subject to the First Amendment defense. To establish monopolization, plaintiff adequately pleaded monopoly power and injury. However, plaintiff also had to prove defendant willfully maintained that power. Plaintiff alleged monopoly leveraging and denial of essential facility. The court dismissed the monopoly leverage claim as it found no separate cause of action. It dismissed the denial of essential facility claim without prejudice as plaintiff had failed to assert that defendant’s service was an essential facility. It also dismissed without prejudice the attempted monopolization claim as plaintiff failed to define the market. The facts pleaded to establish an antitrust violation were adequate to establish a state law claim.
The court denied san diego litigation lawyer defendant’s motion to dismiss the claim for monopolization, the claims for denial of essential facility and attempted monopolization were dismissed without prejudice with leave to amend, and the motion to dismiss the unfair competition claim under state law was denied.
Defendant cable system operator moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted the complaint filed by plaintiff broadcast station for three violations of the Sherman Act and a state claim for unfair competition.
The station brought an action against the cable operator after the operator refused to carry the station on its local cable network. The court found that media antitrust defendants, such as the cable operator were not immune from suit if their program selections were guided by anti-competitive motives. The court concluded that the station properly pleaded an anti-trust violation which was not shielded by the First Amendment by alleging that the basis for the cable operator’s conduct was its desire to restrain, inhibit, and handicap competition. The court found that the station sufficiently stated a cause of action based on the monopolization subtheory of leveraging because the station alleged that the cable operator possessed monopoly power and through that power was attempting to monopolize the market. The court determined that the station failed to state a Sherman Act violation under the essential facility theory because it failed to assert that the operator’s facilities could not be duplicated by a competitor. The court dismissed the attempted monopolization claim because the station did not establish the relevant market.
The court denied the cable operator’s motion for dismissal as to all the Sherman Act theories except attempted monopolization and denial of an essential facility. As to those issues, the station’s claims were dismissed without prejudice and granted leave to amend.