On February 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed an antitrust suit filed by DAW® Industries, San Diego, California, accusing Hanger Orthopedic Group, Austin, Texas, of conspiring to monopolize the market for microprocessor-controlled knees (MPKs).
DAW filed the original suit in May 2006 in the San Diego Superior Court against Hanger and Otto Bock U.S. HealthCare, Minneapolis, Minnesota. DAW alleged that Hanger and Ottobock violated California antitrust laws and protections against unfair competition and, “according to a common design, plan, agreement, and or/scheme, willfully and maliciously conspired to restrain trade and otherwise to violate the antitrust law and engage in unfair and illegal trade practices.”
Hanger removed the action to federal court in June 2009. Hanger claimed, among other things, that there was no evidence of any conspiracy nor any damage to competition to support DAW’s complaints and that DAW’s monopolization claims were not supported by evidence and did not make economic sense. On September 30, 2011, U.S. District Judge John Houston signed off on a 13-page order granting Hanger’s bid for summary judgment on DAW’s claims. DAW and Ottobock reached a settlement deal in July 2010 that called for Ottobock and its insurers to make a lump sum payment to DAW in exchange for DAW dropping its claims against Ottobock.
In this most recent appeal, the three-judge panel affirmed the district court’s decision, saying that DAW provided no evidence “that Hanger or its alleged co-conspirators adversely affected competition in the relevant market.” Further, during the time of Hanger’s purported actions, several new MPKs entered the U.S. market which suggested “that competition remained robust.”