The Antitrust Unit investigates complaints alleging violations of state and federal antitrust laws within the State of Rhode Island. Because of their complexity and the large amount of anticipated discovery, the Attorney General investigates many matters as a member of various multistate working groups.
The Rhode Island Antitrust Act gives the Attorney General the statutory authority to institute suit against persons, corporations and other legal entities that are in violation of state or federal antitrust laws. The General Assembly enacted the Antitrust Act in 1979 and it applies to every type of economic activity having an impact on trade or commerce in Rhode Island adequate to support the jurisdiction of the Superior Court. The Act contains analogues to Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act and Section 3 of the Clayton Act.
During 2013 the Attorney General actively participated in litigation that included: In re: Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) Antitrust Litigation, U.S.D.C. for the Northern District of California MDL 1986 and United States, et al. v. American Express Company, et al., U.S.D.C. for the Eastern District of New York, No. 10-CV-4496.
One multistate matter where the settlement became final and provides
benefits to many Rhode Island residents was In re: Electronic Books
Antitrust Litigation. The Attorneys General had alleged that certain book
publishing companies had colluded to fix the sales price of electronic
books. The settlement agreement between the States and the publishing
companies that were the targets of this multistate investigation and
subsequent defendants in the antitrust enforcement action resulted in
injunctive relief and a payment to the States of about $2.5 million. This
money is to be used for reimbursement of litigation and investigation
costs, attorneys’ fees and consumer protection and education expenses. The
terms of the settlement agreement also requires the publishing companies
to make restitution to consumers. Pursuant to the settlement, the State of
Rhode Island received approximately $41,600 and qualifying Rhode Island
consumers received approximately $254,087.
The Attorney General also participated in multistate investigations of
possible antitrust violations in the pharmaceutical industry, the
healthcare industry, the office information technology industry, the
agricultural industry, matters involving the rights of indirect
purchasers, industries that use vertical restraints, the credit rating
industry, and the gasoline industry. The Attorney General, in cooperation
with other states and the Federal Trade Commission, also participated in
investigations of proposed mergers.