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Amazon Defeats D.C. Attorney General’s Attempt to Revive Antitrust Suit Over Pricing Policies

Following the March 2022 dismissal of a major antitrust lawsuit by the D.C. Attorney General challenging Amazon’s pricing policies nationwide, Paul, Weiss won a further victory when the D.C. Superior Court denied the District’s motion for reconsideration and denied the District’s motion to further amend its complaint. The lawsuit is the first brought by a government entity in the United States challenging Amazon’s pricing policies and business model.

In his lawsuit filed in May 2021 in D.C. Superior Court and amended in September, Attorney General Karl Racine alleged that Amazon’s policies, which are designed to deter third-party sellers from selling products on Amazon at higher prices than those products are sold for elsewhere, are anticompetitive because they allegedly cause sellers to raise prices across the board, and that Amazon also employs anti-competitive agreements with suppliers of the products it sells to consumers directly.

In its written order denying reconsideration, the court held that a plain reading of Amazon’s Fair Pricing Policy and the “lack of factual details in the complaint” rendered implausible the District’s claim that Amazon’s policies create a price floor, and the allegation “that competing online marketplaces offer lower fees or commissions than Defendant only underscores the notion that there is a free market in effect.”

The court also held that the District failed to allege facts in support of its claim that Amazon’s Minimum Margin Agreements with first-party sellers unlawfully cause these sellers to maintain higher prices on other online marketplaces. Rather, the court observed that “[t]he District simply repeated vague conclusion after vague conclusion devoid of facts to support the vague conclusions it repeatedly stated.” Similarly, the court held that the District’s allegations of an illegal monopoly maintenance and of attempted monopolization consisted merely of “conclusory statements devoid of factual information” and did not support claims of anticompetitive conduct and harm.

Finally, the court rejected the District’s request for leave to file a further amended complaint, affirming that its dismissal of the action is with prejudice.

The Paul, Weiss team is led by ligation partners William Isaacson (who argued the motion to dismiss) and Karen Dunn, and counsel Amy Mauser, and includes partners William Michael and Julia Tarver Mason Wood and counsel Daniel Crane, Martha Goodman, Kyle Smith and Melissa Felder Zappala

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