By Andrew Longstreth
NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Gatt Communications Inc, which
sells and markets commercial mobile radios, cannot bring
antitrust claims against alleged co-conspirators in a
bid-rigging scheme to defraud New York state and city agencies,
a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.
The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York affirmed a
lower court's decision dismissing Gatt's complaint against
Thomas Wineland, who worked as vice president of sales and
marketing for mobile radio manufacturer Vertex Standard USA Inc,
and PMC Associates LLC, a Vertex dealer that also served as
Vertex's sales representative in New York.
Gatt said that Wineland and PMC orchestrated a bid-rigging
scheme between at least 2005 and 2007. The plan, according to
Gatt, allowed PMC to pick which Vertex dealer would submit the
lowest bid for each New York contract.
Gatt admitted that it participated in the allegedly
collusive scheme for at least two years, according to the 2nd
Circuit's opinion. But after Gatt broke ranks and submitted a
bid that PMC did not approve, Gatt said that Wineland informed
the company that its Vertex dealership would be terminated.
Gatt said that the termination cost in excess of $1 million.
Its complaint made three antitrust claims and two New York
common law claims.
In its opinion, a three-judge panel for the 2nd Circuit
ruled that Gatt lacked standing to bring antitrust claims. Even
if the scheme that Gatt described was an antitrust violation -
the court said it was not clear - the company would not be able
to bring a claim.
Antitrust laws, the court wrote, "are not concerned with
injuries to competitors such as Gatt resulting from their
participation in or exile from such schemes."
Karen Neuwirth, an attorney for Gatt, said that the court
was predisposed against her client because it had admitted
participating in the alleged collusive scheme. She added that
the court was sending a message with its ruling: "If you're
corrupt, keep on doing what you're doing."
Michael Hahn, an attorney for PMC, voiced satisfaction with
the court's ruling. Daniel Laytin, who represents Wineland, did
not return a call seeking comment.
The case is Gatt Communications Inc v. PMC Associates LLC,
2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 11-1111.
For Gatt Communications: Karen Neuwirth of the Law Office of
Martin S. Rapaport.
For PMC Associates: Michael Hahn of Lowenstein Sandler PC.
For Thomas Wineland: Daniel Laytin of Kirkland & Ellis.
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