Litigation and Regulatory Compliance

Antitrust and Consumer Protection

From Fortune 500 companies to family-run businesses and individuals, clients turn to Wiggin and Dana's Antitrust and Consumer Protection Group because of its broad experience handling a wide variety of antitrust and consumer protection issues. Led by Robert M. Langer – who formerly served as the Assistant Attorney General in charge of Antitrust and Consumer Protection for the State of Connecticut, chaired the Multistate Antitrust Task Force of the National Association of Attorneys General, and literally "wrote the book" on the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (published as Volume 12 of the Thomson Reuters Connecticut Practice Series) – the Group represents a diverse group of clients nationwide including: distributors, franchisors, technology companies, hospitals, insurance companies, licensed professionals, manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, retailers and service providers. We provide sound strategic advice, experienced litigation defense and vigorous representation before government agencies during federal, state and local investigations.

Government Investigations
We have represented clients in connection with multi-state antitrust and consumer protection investigations involving all 50 states, and individual investigations by Attorneys General in other states including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin. We are also regularly retained by clients in connection with matters handled by other state and local law enforcement agencies. For example, we have handled investigations by the Vermont Department of Health regarding allergen and nutritional content labels on food products, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's enforcement of calorie-posting requirements in restaurants, a multi-agency investigation in California concerning the marketing of dietary supplements, as well as investigations by the Nevada Department of Business & Industry and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

We also represent clients before the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission in connection with proposed mergers and acquisitions, alleged anticompetitive practices and a wide variety of consumer protection issues.

Litigation and Appeals
We frequently appear in federal and state courts to defend clients faced with lawsuits and class actions brought under antitrust and consumer protection laws, many of which are filed simultaneously with related government investigations. Examples include our representation of Qualcomm in its federal court and International Trade Commission litigation with Apple concerning among other things, Apple's antitrust and related claims against Qualcomm. Another example is our successful defense of the franchisor of Subway (on summary judgment) and Schlotzsky's (at trial and on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit) in cases alleging violations of federal and state tying laws. We have also secured an affirmance in the Connecticut Appellate Court for the Town of Madison, confirming that the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act ("CUTPA") does not apply to certain municipal functions permitted under state statute or regulation. More recently, we successfully defended in the D. Conn. on behalf of our client, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Conn., certain of Connecticut's liquor pricing laws against a claim that the statutes were preempted by the federal antitrust laws.  

Our experience extends to the highest federal and state appellate courts. For instance, in conjunction with Bryan Cave, we filed an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in the 2007 Leegin case setting forth our client's unique story about why resale price maintenance agreements can actually be pro-competitive. The brief was cited favorably during oral argument and in the Court's decision overturning nearly 100 years of antitrust precedent to the contrary. In 2018, we submitted an amicus brief on behalf of two well-known antitrust economists, Greg Sidak and Bobby Willig, in the U.S. Supreme Court in Ohio v. American Express, one of the most important antitrust cases in a generation. Our brief supported AMEX’s successful position regarding how two –sided markets should be evaluated under the federal antitrust laws.

Counseling
Our experience goes far beyond investigations and litigation. We regularly advise clients on issues arising from mergers and acquisitions, such as domestic and international pre-merger filing requirements and the regulatory risks posed by a proposed transaction. As one example, we were intimately involved in Yale-New Haven Hospital's purchase of the assets of the Hospital of St. Raphael's in 2012.

We also advise clients on issues relating to joint-ventures, long-term cooperative agreements and actual or proposed distribution, marketing and sales practices that often times go to the heart of their business plans or promotional activities. Our experience includes creating and supporting trade associations and purchasing cooperatives, drafting antitrust compliance guidelines, and training sales staff and other non-lawyers on basic antitrust concepts. In addition, in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2007 decision in Leegin, we have counseled clients on the risks of resale price maintenance in a variety of industries, and have developed and helped clients to implement Minimum Advertised Price ("MAP") policies for the internet and other media. We also have a substantial record of obtaining significant Business Review Letters from the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice and Advisory Opinions from the Federal Trade Commission.

In addition, we regularly advise clients on a wide variety of issues involving various highly regulated markets, such as alcoholic beverages, propane, tobacco, firearms and medical marijuana. We have extensive experience before the Connecticut Liquor Control Commission, as well as the following divisions of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection – the Liquor Control Division, the Medical Marijuana Program and the Foods and Standards Division (which includes food, propane and weights and measures). We also have significant experience advising clients regarding the propane laws in both Vermont and Rhode Island, and have represented clients before the Vermont Attorney General's Office with regard to complex propane regulatory matters.