Florida Southern Court Federal Judge Robert N. Scola, Jnr yesterday dismissed Duty Free Americas’ long running antitrust lawsuit against The Estée Lauder Companies.
DFA had originally accused Estée Lauder of trying to force it out of the airport business and brought its action after claiming that ELC’s refusal to supply it with beauty products had acted against its bids for several US airport concessions over a period of four years (case number 0:12-cv-60741 – in the Florida Southern Court, inset above).
However, the judge upheld his previous judgment that Lauder’s actions were not anti competitive and rejected DFA’s assertion that Estée Lauder had attempted to force it out of the airport retail sector and monopolize the beauty product market in duty free shops. He did leave the door open for DFA to revisit the case, but this was unsuccessful yesterday.
The original case was brought by DFA (the plaintiff) on April 26 2012 and as reported last October, DFA President Leon Falic told TRBusiness that the retailer was continuing with its action. He said then: “Yes, we are still pursuing it and obviously we thought they were trying to change the rules of the game and that would have affected everyone,” he said. “We will see what comes out of it. You never know where these things are going to go.”
BACKGROUND TO THE CASE
DFA’s legal team had originally argued that the beauty product company had violated the Sherman Act by refusing to do business with it, which caused it to lose several airport contracts — including one at Orlando International Airport .
[ELC ceased supplying DFA five years ago in June 2008 after a pricing dispute, according to DFA’s original court submission in its 39-page complaint document].
DFA claimed then that ELC had breached conduct in sections 1-2 of the Sherman Act and was asking for three times the damages it claims it sustained.
But on May 9 last year, US District Judge Robert N. Scola denied DFA’s antitrust claim that ELC was trying to force its $1bn-plus international sales operation out of the US airport business. In the US District Court, Southern District of Florida he said there was insufficient evidence to back up this claim.
In terms of DFA’s allegation of exclusion from the market, the judge also ruled last year that there was insufficient evidence to back up DFA’s claims that ELC had somehow interfered with the concession bid processes at Newark, Atlanta, Orlando and Boston airports when it submitted a letter stating its operator preferences for certain stores.
Judge Robert N. Scola also previously rejected DFA’s claims that ELC had violated the Sherman Act by attempting to monopolize relevant markets and also the assertion that ELC had ‘tortiously interfered with DFA’s prospective business relationships with the Newark, Boston and Orlando airport authorities by taking actions that prevented DFA from securing duty free concessions from these airports’.
In the case of Duty Free Americas Inc. v. the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., the case number was 0:12-cv-60741, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. DFA was originally represented by Paul J. Schwiep and Gabriel Groisman of Coffey Burlington PL and Mark Klapow and Elliot Golding of Crowell & Moring LLP. Estée Lauder was represented by Joseph Kattan and Robert C. Walters of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Aaron Stenzler Weiss and Charles Martin Rosenberg of Carlton Fields.