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8th Circ. Changes Course, Revives Propane Antitrust Dispute


June 23, 2017

On rehearing, a split en banc Eighth Circuit on Friday reversed a prior panel ruling and revived direct purchasers’ antitrust claims against distributors of pre-filled propane tanks, ruling that the purchasers properly alleged an ongoing antitrust violation that restarts the statute of limitations clock.

In a published 5-4 decision, the appeals court found that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1997 decision in Klehr v. A.O. Smith Corp. set a precedent that each new sale to plaintiffs in a price-fixing conspiracy suit constitutes an overt act that restarts the statute of limitations.

In support of its finding that Klehr establishes that precedent, the majority opinion pointed to rulings by the Fourth, Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh circuits it said all cite Klehr when ruling that the clock resets when sales are made in a price-fixing conspiracy.

The majority opinion also found that the direct purchasers have properly alleged all three necessary elements of a claim for continued violation that is sufficient to restart the statute of limitations. A price-fixing conspiracy that continued into the alleged class period was also properly alleged, the opinion said.

Read 8th Circ. Changes Course, Revives Propane Antitrust Dispute.