140 ANTITRUST PLAINTIFFS SEEK COURT RULING THAT “PRODUCT LINES”
ARE “PRODUCT MARKETS” - TO REDUCE ANTITRUST LITIGATION COSTS BY 95% AND TO COMBAT OUTSOURCING AND GLOBALIZATION
NEW YORK, NY, May 8 /PRNewswire/ -- A group of 145 plaintiffs suing Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), Sam’s Club, AutoZone (NYSE: AZO), Advance Auto Parts (NYSE: AAP) and 14 auto-parts manufacturers including General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), announced that they are seeking a court ruling to be able to use the “product lines” they purchased as their proof of the required “product markets” in their antitrust suit for illegal price discrimination under the 1936 federal Robinson-Patman Act.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Carl E. Person (who is a Green Party candidate for New York Attorney General), states “If the court grants our request, the cost of price discrimination lawsuits will decline about 95%, as well as the delays, and make it more possible for business and other victims of price discrimination to obtain relief in the courts. A substantial increase in antitrust enforcement can be expected,” according to Person.
Without the requested relief, the plaintiffs would have to prove that each of the retailer defendants (such as Wal-Mart and AutoZone) purchased an identical part at about the same time, something impossible to do when about one billion transactions are at issue (140 plaintiffs, since 1996). Person states that “proving the dollar amount of purchases by a plaintiff and defendant within an entire product line is easy to do (using data processing records) and would reduce the cost of antitrust litigation for defendants and plaintiffs by 95% or more.”
Attorney Person claims that the nation’s manufacturers are being forced into selling their products and product lines to Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and the specialty retailer clones of Wal-Mart, such as AutoZone and Advance Auto, at 50% of the price at which the manufacturers are selling the same products to the independent competitors. This, according to Person, makes the independent distributors unable to compete with the major retailers, and has driven 50% of Person’s 140 clients and numerous auto-parts manufacturers out of business or into bankruptcy during the past 7 years. Person notes that “3 years ago, only 1 auto-parts manufacturer filed for bankruptcy, but that during the past 2 years 37 auto-parts manufacturers have filed for bankruptcy.” According to Person, “the manufacturers want me to win this lawsuit, but are afraid to state this publicly, for fear of losing their dubious opportunity to sell auto parts to the major auto-parts retailers at a substantial loss.
As part of the illegal growth of the
major retailers, they have placed demands on the manufacturers to move their
manufacturing jobs to other countries (to obtain the “
Actually, according to Person, these major retailers are operating at a huge annual loss and should not be allowed to operate at all, but for misleading financial statements that fail to disclose and account for the massive, ongoing violations of the Robinson-Patman Act. “Failing to disclose below-cost sales to the manufacturers’ largest customers is also a violation of the federa; Sarbanes-Oxley Act,” states Carl Person. Our governmental protectors (the U.S. Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the 50 State Attorneys General) do nothing about this problem because the corporations have become more powerful than the one federal government and 50 state governments. Person observes that “I would like to see how the major corporations will be able to cope with 8,500 town attorneys general taking control of the regulatory function away the federal and state governments.”
Person explains how Wal-Mart claims $70 billion as its cost of goods, but Wal-Mart should actually be paying about $130 billion for such goods, the same price (less $10 billion as a legitimate volume discount) being paid by Wal-Mart’s independent competitors. However, “in spite of this $60 billion annual advantage, Wal-Mart only winds up with net profits of $10 billion by the end of the year. If the Wal-Mart or SEC accountants were to take away the $60 billion in unearned income and require Wal-Mart to report that income as non-recurrent income,“ states Attorney Person, “Wal-Mart will be revealed as a corporation losing more than $40 billion each year and would find it difficult to continue in business.
One of the reasons the plaintiffs are seeking the court order to permit the action to be maintained by proof of “product-line” purchases is that several years ago, in an earlier suit by the same plaintiffs against the same retailer defendants (Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, AutoZone and Advance Auto Parts), the defendants got a court order requiring the plaintiffs to rent a warehouse in Brooklyn and have 30,000 boxes of plaintiffs’ business records shipped by tractor trailers from 22 states for review by a promised “team of 100 paralegals (to work 12 hours per day for 60 straight days” prior to trial), but the defendants and the promised team failed to show up at the 45,000 square foot warehouse (costing plaintiffs $45,000/month) to review the plaintiffs’ records. Plaintiffs were put through a needless $500,000 expense by reason of this “Warehouse Caper” which is described in Count V of the complaint. Plaintiffs are suing to recover this $500,000 plus other related losses.
Attorney Person claims that the major
retailers have grown because of the failure of the federal and state
governments to enforce the nation’s antitrust laws, starting with the Nixon
administration and continuing up to the present. However, assures Person, “if
local governments start enforcing these laws, through my concept of a “private
attorney general”, the nation will be able to stop the flow of jobs to other
countries, create new and higher-paying jobs and better business opportunities
Person has declared his candidacy in New York for the position of Attorney General, and promises that if elected he will appoint one “town attorney general” for each of New York’s 1,800 towns and villages, to take over antitrust law enforcement from the two centralized offices now responsible for antitrust enforcement (the U.S. Attorney General and the New York Attorney General). Clearly they have failed to enforce these laws because of the way that election campaigns are financed, and the only hope for effective antitrust law enforcement seems to be from a decentralization of the enforcement power, turned over to the 8,500 towns and villages throughout the nation’s 50 states.
Person has outlined the way in which decentralization can take place, effectively. He describes the “town attorney general” as a profit center for any town, one that can produce enough revenue in towns up to 25,000 or 30,000 population to be able to pay for healthcare insurance, dental insurance, free broadband and reduced real estate taxes for all residents of the town.
The defendants in the lawsuit are Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), Sam’s Club (subsidiary of Wal-Mart), AutoZone (NYSE: AZO), Advance Auto Parts (NYSE: AAP), General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), Affinia Group, Inc. (private), ArvinMeritor, Inc. (NYSE: ARM), Ashland, Inc. (NYSE: ASH), Cardone Industries USA (private), Dana Corporation (bkcy, DCNAQ.PK), Pennzoil-Quaker State Company (affiliate of Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies, NYSE: RDS-A), Standard Motor Products, Inc. (NYSE: SMP), Stant Manufacturing, Inc. (subsidiary of Tomkins PLC, NYSE: TKS), and The Armor All/STP Products Company (an Australian company).
Further information is obtainable at Person’s websites: www.townattorneygeneral.com, www.carlperson4NYAG.com, www.americanjobsparty.com, and the auto-parts litigation website at www.lawmall.com/autoparts, or by calling Attorney Carl Person at 212-307-4444.
Carl E. Person, Attorney