Blumenthal sounds off on High Court's pro-business ruling

John O'Brien Jun. 29, 2007, 2:51pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - With businesses cleaning up in the U.S. Supreme Court, one of the most visible state attorneys general decided to voice his displeasure with a Thursday ruling that struck a 96-year-old antitrust rule.

Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal says the decision in Leegin v. PSKS, Inc., that makes retailers no longer obligated to agree to minimum resale prices for their products jeopardizes discounters and consumers.

"Discounters become an endangered species as a result of this misguided ruling," Blumenthal said. "The law has changed dramatically and historically to the detriment of consumers.

"The evidentiary standards for challenging vertical price-fixing are now higher and cases will be far more difficult to enforce. As a result, the retail landscape will be dramatically changed for consumers -- for the worse. If a situation arises and the facts warrant, we will still take action."

Blumenthal had filed an amicrus brief in support of the law, which made the practice a violation of antitrust laws.

PSKS alleged that Leegin Creative Leather Products' no-discount policy did just that, and each lower court agreed. PSKS had been awarded $3.6 million in damages and $375,000 in legal fees until the High Court reversed the ruling.

"To the extent consumers demand cheap goods, judging vertical-price restraints under the rule of reason will not prevent the market from providing them," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy, part of a 5-4 majority that included Chief Justice John Roberts.

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