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US antitrust litigation

Global antitrust litigation leaders.

Freshfields’ US Antitrust Litigation Practice has a Proven Record of Success in Litigation and Trial against Both the Government and Private Plaintiffs

Our US antitrust litigation team consists of lawyers who are not only antitrust specialists but combine that expertise with extensive litigation and stand-up trial experience. The vast majority of our team has been to trial in an antitrust case in the last three years, on both the defense and prosecution sides. Our practice leaders include: Eric Mahr, the DOJ’s former Director of Litigation who oversaw the Antitrust Division’s successful challenges to over $90 billion in mergers as well as several criminal trials; Julie Elmer, a former lead trial counsel for DOJ, with over 20 years of civil litigation experience; and Andy Ewalt, who spent more than a decade at the DOJ, serving in both the civil and criminal sections, including as Counsel to the Director of Litigation. Freshfields’ deep bench of former DOJ and FTC trial attorneys gives us unique insight into how the enforcement agencies approach enforcement in general and litigation in particular.

Eric and Julie have served as lead trial counsel in three of the last five civil merger challenges the DOJ took to trial, including its last two victories. More recently, Eric and Andy led a team of Freshfields antitrust litigators to victory at trial against the FTC in the agency’s challenge to our client Evonik’s acquisition of PeroxyChem. Our win marked only the second time in the last decade that the merging parties defeated the FTC in a litigated merger challenge.

Our litigation experience also includes defending clients in follow-on civil litigation, class actions, and sensitive internal and government investigations, such as grand jury investigations into cartel activity.

Client successes

  • Google in The State of Texas, et al. v. Google, LLC (E.D. Tex.), and in the MDL In re Google Advertising Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y.), in its defense of litigation brought by the Texas AG and 16 other state AG, as well as various class action plaintiffs, alleging violations of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act in connection with Google’s ad tech business.

  • Evonik in FTC v. RAG-Stiftung, (D.D.C. 2020), its landmark win against the FTC, which had sued to block Evonik’s acquisition of PeroxyChem, a competing hydrogen peroxide producer. This was the first time the FTC was defeated in a merger challenge since 2015. Read our press release and listen to our podcast summarizing the case.

  • Cengage Learning in In re Inclusive Access Course Materials Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y. 2021), where we secured dismissal of suits by two putative classes of college students and off-campus college bookstores alleging conspiracy and monopolization claims against publishers and book retailers.

  • PepsiCo in Mahaska Bottling Company, Inc. v. Pepsico Inc. (S.D. Iowa. 2020), where we successfully secured dismissal of claims relating to price fixing, predatory pricing, monopolization, and price discrimination. Defended PepsiCo in a dispute over the terms of a business arrangement with one of PepsiCo’s independent bottlers, including antitrust allegations.

  • Cargill in In re Crop Inputs Antitrust Litigation (E.D. Mo. 2021), consolidated class actions stemming from a Canadian Competition Bureau investigation into the sale of crop inputs.

  • Grieg Seafood in the In re Farm-Raised Salmon Antitrust Litigation (S.D. Fl. 2019), lawsuits based of the announcement of an EC investigation that became public in February 2019.

  • Hachette Book Group, a leading global publisher, in US v. Apple (S.D.N.Y. 2012) and In re: Electronic Books Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y. 2012),class actions and related proceedings surrounding the DOJ’s investigation of eBooks pricing.

We have the UK's market-leading competition litigation team, which has acted on nearly all the leading competition litigation cases over the last 20 years and an unparalleled track record of success.

Our experience includes:

  • Successfully defending ABB in the ground-breaking cartel follow-on damages action brought by BritNed (a National Grid and TenneT joint venture) concerning the power cables cartel. The case was the first follow-on cartel damages claim to go to full trial and final judgment, with the claimant recovering less than a 10th of the damages it sought and bearing all of its costs for having effectively lost the case. The judgment is now the leading authority on cartel damages follow-on litigation and is currently before the UK Court of Appeal.
  • Defending Mastercard in the first major opt-out collective (class) action under the regime introduced by the UK’s Consumer Rights Act 2015. The action was brought on behalf of a class of around 46 million UK consumers for a total of £14bn in damages, reportedly the largest civil damages claim ever brought in the UK courts. Read more about the litigation in our case study.

Defending London and South Eastern Railway in the ‘rail tickets’ collective action before the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal. This is the first collective proceeding in the UK in which an abuse of a dominant position has been alleged, and also the first claim in that regime to be pleaded on a ‘standalone’ basis, without the benefit of a regulatory infringement finding.

For many years we have been involved in almost every major European cartel follow-on damages case, many abuse-of-dominance-based damages actions and numerous other high-profile antitrust claims. 

Our experience includes:

  • Coordinating Volvo/Renault Trucks’ multijurisdictional defense of litigation arising from its participation in the trucks cartel – the most extensive and largest-scale competition damages litigation ever seen in Europe, with thousands of claims being pursued across a wide number of European jurisdictions. 
  • Securing a landmark EU General Court win in 2020 overturning the European Commission’s prohibition of CK Hutchison’s acquisition of O2 UK in 2016. The ruling is an important precedent that will require the Commission to reconsider its approach to challenging mergers in concentrated markets, with the Court having now set tight boundaries to the Commission's margin of discretion. This is only the second time in the last 18 years that an EU merger prohibition has been overturned. Freshfields also represented UPS in its successful headline annulment action in 2019 against the Commission’s prohibition of its acquisition of TNT.
  • Defending Holcim in a claim brought against it by Cartel Damage Claims before Dusseldorf’s Higher Regional Court in relation to Germany's cement investigation, the first German class action-type damages claim.
  • Acting for ABB in relation to litigation arising out of cartels concerning gas insulated switchgear, power transformers and power cables in numerous jurisdictions, including Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands and Israel.

Advising thyssenkrupp on the coordination of multiple proceedings across jurisdictions including Austria, Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands in the elevators cartel case. This involved novel indirect purchaser claims and admissibility of umbrella claims (including a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union on these issues), limitation periods, jurisdiction over foreign parties, joint and several liability, and disclosure of documents on the European Commission's file.

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