United States v. American Express Co., No. 15-1672 (2d Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Amex appealed from the district court's decision finding that it unreasonably restrained trade in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, by entering into agreements containing nondiscriminatory provisions (NDPs). The district court held that Amex was liable for violating section 1 and enjoined Amex from enforcing its NDPs. The court concluded that the district court erred here in focusing entirely on the interests of merchants while discounting the interests of cardholders. Plaintiffs bore the burden in this case to prove net harm to Amex consumers as a whole - that is, both cardholders and merchants - by showing that Amex’s nondiscriminatory provisions have reduced the quality or quantity of credit‐card purchases. The court concluded that, given the district court’s explicit finding that neither party provided reliable evidence of Amex’s costs or profit margins accounting for consumers on both sides of the platform, and given evidence showing that the quality and output of credit cards across the entire industry continues to increase, plaintiffs failed to carry their burden to prove a section 1 violation. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.