Thursday, January 22, 2009, 8:39 PM

COA: Indirect Purchaser's Price Fixing Suit States Sufficient Claim Even Where Task Of Proving Damages Is "Daunting"

Wednesday the NC Court of Appeals (COA) held that an indirect purchaser of products containing a chemical compound produced by the defendants could sue defendants for price fixing of that compound under Chapter 75, North Carolina's unfair and deceptive trade practices statute. The case is Teague v. Bayer AG.

Plaintiff claimed Defendants engaged in price fixing of the compound by agreeing to restrict output and raise prices. He argued that Defendants' alleged price fixing of the compound harmed consumers by passing the increased cost onto many commonly purchased products which contain the component (cars, rubber hoses, and roofing materials, for example). Defendants argued that the multiple variables involved in pricing made plaintiff's damages too speculative, and that he had thus not stated a sufficient claim. The COA disagreed. Although it characterized the calculation of Plaintiff's damages as "daunting," the COA held that the legislative intent of Chapter 75 was to give indirect purchasers, as aggrieved consumers, a cause of action, and that complicated questions of causation and damages requiring complex economic analyses did not warrant dismissal of Plaintiff's claim.

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