Supreme Court Overturns Circuit Court's Reeder-Simco Decision

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Volvo did not violate Robinson-Patman Act, court declares

On January 10, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a vote of 7 - 2, overturned an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Volvo violated the Robinson-Patman Act (RPA) by favoring other truck dealers over plaintiff Reeder-Simco GMA, an Arkansas-based truck dealer. In July, ABA had joined a number of retail and dealer trade groups in submitting an amicus brief to the Supreme Court contending that the outcome of the case could have significance for independent retailers, including booksellers.

"While the Supreme Court's decision is certainly disappointing, given the specialized circumstances of this case -- which involved competitive bidding for special orders of heavy trucks -- and the fairly narrow nature of the Court's decision, it does not appear that the decision is likely to have a broader impact that might affect the book industry," said David Walker, ABA's director of special projects. "And, of course, ABA will continue to support efforts to defend antitrust laws that we believe help our members maintain access to fair terms."

In 2000, Reeder filed a lawsuit against Volvo Trucks North America in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas saying the truck manufacturer unfairly granted better price concessions to other truck dealers, thereby reducing the dealer's profits. After the District Court ruled in Reeder's favor, Volvo appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the District Court's ruling, according to Northwestern University's On the Docket. Now, Volvo is appealing to the Supreme Court, and contends that since the purchase of trucks usually involves competitive bidders, not purchasers, it does not implicate RPA, as reported by The Lawletter. --David Grogan