FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
FOR ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Pursuant to Section 2(b) of the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act, 15 U.S.C. § 16(b)-(h) ("APPA"), plaintiff United States of America ("United States") moves for entry of the proposed Final Judgment filed in this civil antitrust proceeding. The Final Judgment may be entered at this time without further hearing if the Court determines that entry is in the public interest. The Competitive Impact Statement, filed in this matter on October 6, 2008, explains why entry of the proposed Final Judgment would be in the public interest. The United States is filing simultaneously with this Motion and Memorandum a Certificate of Compliance setting forth the steps taken by the parties to comply with all applicable provisions of the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act, 15 U.S.C. § 16(b)(h) ("APPA") and certifying that the statutory waiting period has expired.
On October 6, 2008, the United States filed a civil antitrust Complaint alleging that the acquisition of Enodis plc by The Manitowoc Company, Inc. ("Manitowoc") would substantially lessen competition in the development, production, distribution, and sale of commercial cube ice machines in the United States in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. § 18. Accordingly, the Complaint sought to prevent the anticompetitive effects of the acquisition by requesting, among other things: (1) a judgment that the acquisition, if consummated, would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act, and (2) relief to enjoin the parties from consummating the merger.
At the same time the Complaint was filed, a proposed Final Judgment, which is designed to eliminate the anticompetitive effects of the acquisition, a Competitive Impact Statement, and a Hold Separate Stipulation and Order ("Hold Separate Order") also were filed. The Hold Separate Order permitted Manitowoc to consummate its acquisition of Enodis plc, which it did on October 27, 2008, and requires Manitowoc to preserve, maintain and continue to operate the Divestiture Business in the ordinary course of business, which includes making reasonable efforts to maintain and increase sales and revenues. The Hold Separate Order provides that Manitowoc must abide by the terms of the proposed Final Judgment, which requires it to divest Enodis's entire business engaged in the development, production, distribution, and sale of ice machines, ice machine parts, and related equipment in the United States (hereafter, the "Divestiture Business") within 150 days after the filing of the Complaint (with the possibility of one or more extensions to this period not to exceed sixty days in total), or five days after notice of the entry of the Final Judgment by the Court, whichever is later. If Manitowoc does not complete the divestitures within the prescribed time, then, under the terms of the proposed Final Judgment, this Court will appoint a trustee to sell the Divestiture Business. The Competitive Impact Statement explains the basis for the Complaint and the reasons why entry of the proposed Final Judgment would be in the public interest.
Entry of the proposed Final Judgment would terminate this action, except that the Court would retain jurisdiction to construe, modify, or enforce the provisions of the proposed Final Judgment and to punish violations thereof.
II. Compliance with the APPA
The APPA requires a sixty-day period for the submission of public comments on the proposed Final Judgment. 15 U.S.C. § 16(b). In compliance with the APPA, the United States filed a Competitive Impact Statement ("CIS") on October 6, 2008. The United States published the proposed Final Judgment and the CIS in the Federal Register on October 16, 2008, and in The Washington Post during the period November 17, 2008. The comment period expired on January 6, 2009, and the United States received no public comments. The Certificate of Compliance filed simultaneously with this Motion recites that all the requirements of the APPA have now been satisfied. It is therefore appropriate for the Court to make the public interest determination required by 15 U.S.C. § 16(e) and to enter the Final Judgment.
III. Standard of Judicial Review
Before entering the proposed Final Judgment, the Court is to determine whether the Judgment "is in the public interest." 15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(1). In making that determination, the court, in accordance with the statute as amended in 2004, is required to consider:
15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(1)(A) & (B). In considering these statutory factors, the court's inquiry is necessarily a limited one as the government is entitled to "broad discretion to settle with the defendant within the reaches of the public interest." United States v. Microsoft Corp., 56 F.3d 1448, 1461 (D.C. Cir. 1995); see generally United States v. SBC Commc'ns, Inc., 489 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2007) (assessing public interest standard under the Tunney Act).(1)
As the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has held, under the APPA a court considers, among other things, the relationship between the remedy secured and the specific allegations set forth in the government's complaint, whether the decree is sufficiently clear, whether enforcement mechanisms are sufficient, and whether the decree may positively harm third parties. See Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1458-62. With respect to the adequacy of the relief secured by the decree, a court may not "engage in an unrestricted evaluation of what relief would best serve the public." United States v. BNS, Inc., 858 F.2d 456, 462 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing United States v. Bechtel Corp., 648 F.2d 660, 666 (9th Cir. 1981)); see also Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1460-62; United States v. Alcoa, Inc., 152 F. Supp. 2d 37, 40 (D.D.C. 2001). Courts have held that:
Bechtel, 648 F.2d at 666 (emphasis added) (citations omitted).(2) In determining whether a proposed settlement is in the public interest, a district court "must accord deference to the government's predictions about the efficacy of its remedies, and may not require that the remedies perfectly match the alleged violations." SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 17; see also Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1461 (noting the need for courts to be "deferential to the government's predictions as to the effect of the proposed remedies"); United States v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., 272 F. Supp. 2d 1, 6 (D.D.C. 2003) (noting that the court should grant due respect to the United States' prediction as to the effect of proposed remedies, its perception of the market structure, and its views of the nature of the case).
Courts have greater flexibility in approving proposed consent decrees than in crafting their own decrees following a finding of liability in a litigated matter. "[A] proposed decree must be approved even if it falls short of the remedy the court would impose on its own, as long as it falls within the range of acceptability or is 'within the reaches of public interest.'" United States v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 552 F. Supp. 131, 151 (D.D.C. 1982) (citations omitted) (quoting United States v. Gillette Co., 406 F. Supp. 713, 716 (D. Mass. 1975)), aff'd sub nom. Maryland v. United States, 460 U.S. 1001 (1983); see also United States v. Alcan Aluminum Ltd., 605 F. Supp. 619, 622 (W.D. Ky. 1985) (approving the consent decree even though the court would have imposed a greater remedy). To meet this standard, the United States "need only provide a factual basis for concluding that the settlements are reasonably adequate remedies for the alleged harms." SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 17.
Moreover, the court's role under the APPA is limited to reviewing the remedy in relationship to the violations that the United States has alleged in its Complaint, and does not authorize the court to "construct [its] own hypothetical case and then evaluate the decree against that case." Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1459. Because the "court's authority to review the decree depends entirely on the government's exercising its prosecutorial discretion by bringing a case in the first place," it follows that "the court is only authorized to review the decree itself," and not to "effectively redraft the complaint" to inquire into other matters that the United States did not pursue. Id. at 1459-60. As this Court recently confirmed in SBC Communications, courts "cannot look beyond the complaint in making the public interest determination unless the complaint is drafted so narrowly as to make a mockery of judicial power." SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 15.
In its 2004 amendments, Congress made clear its intent to preserve the practical benefits of utilizing consent decrees in antitrust enforcement, adding the unambiguous instruction that "[n]othing in this section shall be construed to require the court to conduct an evidentiary hearing or to require the court to permit anyone to intervene." 15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(2). The language wrote into the statute what Congress intended when it enacted the Tunney Act in 1974, as Senator Tunney explained: "[t]he court is nowhere compelled to go to trial or to engage in extended proceedings which might have the effect of vitiating the benefits of prompt and less costly settlement through the consent decree process." 119 Cong. Rec. 24,598 (1973) (statement of Senator Tunney). Rather, the procedure for the public interest determination is left to the discretion of the court, with the recognition that the court's "scope of review remains sharply proscribed by precedent and the nature of Tunney Act proceedings." SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 11.(3)
The United States alleged in its Complaint that the acquisition of Enodis by Manitowoc would substantially lessen competition in the development, production, distribution, and sale of commercial cube ice machines in the United States. The remedy provided for in the proposed Final Judgment resolves the competitive effects of concern entirely by requiring Manitowoc to divest Enodis's entire business engaged in the development, production, distribution, and sale of ice machines, ice machine parts, and related equipment in the United States. Moreover, the public, including affected competitors and customers, has had the opportunity to comment on the proposed Final Judgment as required by law, and no comments have been submitted. There has been no showing that the proposed settlement constitutes an abuse of the United States's discretion or that it is not within the zone of settlements consistent with the public interest.
For the reasons set forth in this Motion and Memorandum and in the Competitive Impact Statement, the Court should find that the proposed Final Judgment is in the public interest and should enter the proposed Final Judgment without further hearings.
The United States respectfully requests that the proposed Final Judgment be entered as soon as possible.
Dated: January 21, 2009
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I, Helena M. Gardner, hereby certify that on January 21, 2009, I caused a copy of the foregoing Motion and Memorandum for Entry of Final Judgment to be served upon defendants The Manitowoc Company, Inc., Enodis plc, and Enodis Corporation by mailing the document electronically to the duly authorized legal representatives of defendants as follows:
Counsel for Defendant The Manitowoc Company, Inc.:
Gregory E. Neppl, Esquire
Counsel for Defendants Enodis plc, and Enodis Corporation:
Joel R. Grosberg
1. The 2004 amendments substituted "shall" for "may" in directing relevant factors for court to consider and amended the list of factors to focus on competitive considerations and to address potentially ambiguous judgment terms. Compare 15 U.S.C. § 16(e) (2004), with 15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(1) (2006); see also SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 11 (concluding that the 2004 amendments "effected minimal changes" to Tunney Act review).
2. Cf. BNS, 858 F.2d at 464 (holding that the court's "ultimate authority under the [APPA] is limited to approving or disapproving the consent decree"); United States v. Gillette Co., 406 F. Supp. 713, 716 (D. Mass. 1975) (noting that, in this way, the court is constrained to "look at the overall picture not hypercritically, nor with a microscope, but with an artist's reducing glass"). See generally Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1461 (discussing whether "the remedies [obtained in the decree are] so inconsonant with the allegations charged as to fall outside of the 'reaches of the public interest'").
3. See United States v. Enova Corp., 107 F. Supp. 2d 10, 17 (D.D.C. 2000) (noting that the "Tunney Act expressly allows the court to make its public interest determination on the basis of the competitive impact statement and response to comments alone"); United States v. Mid-Am. Dairymen, Inc., 1977-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) ¶ 61,508, at 71,980 (W.D. Mo. 1977) ("Absent a showing of corrupt failure of the government to discharge its duty, the Court, in making its public interest finding, should . . . carefully consider the explanations of the government in the competitive impact statement and its responses to comments in order to determine whether those explanations are reasonable under the circumstances."); S. Rep. No. 93-298, 93d Cong., 1st Sess., at 6 (1973) ("Where the public interest can be meaningfully evaluated simply on the basis of briefs and oral arguments, that is the approach that should be utilized.").