The jury found that the defendants did not enter a conspiracy to restrain trade.
Retained by Gray Plant Mooty
Defense counsel retained Celeste Saravia of Cornerstone Research to analyze the competitive effects of Hearth & Home’s decision to terminate its distribution agreement with J & M Distributing and to provide testimony at trial.
The plaintiff, J & M Distributing, alleged that Hearth & Home, a leading manufacturer of hearth products, engaged in a “vertical conspiracy” with a hearth retailer. The plaintiff alleged that the goal of the purported vertical conspiracy was to increase Hearth & Home’s market power in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas. According to the plaintiff, Hearth & Home’s decision to terminate its distributor agreement with J & M Distributing was part of this alleged conspiracy.
Dr. Saravia provided expert testimony at the jury trial for the defense. She testified on the many procompetitive business justifications for Hearth & Home’s decision to terminate its agreement with J & M Distributing as well as the lack of any anticompetitive effects from the termination.
The jury found for the defendants on the antitrust and breach of contract claims. The jury’s opinion was consistent with Dr. Saravia’s testimony.