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Nicole L. Castle provides legal counsel on complex civil and criminal antitrust litigation. She regularly represents clients in complex, multidistrict class action antitrust litigation alleging Sherman Act violations. She also defends mergers and acquisitions before the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Nicole counsels clients on strategies for addressing cartel prosecutions and defenses, from the inception of government investigations to the initiation of civil class action litigation. Read Nicole L. Castle's full bio.

Developments in antitrust class actions over the past year highlight the critical role that the certification decision plays. In the United States, the denial of class certification “may sound the ‘death knell’ of the litigation on the part of plaintiffs.”

To obtain class certification, plaintiffs must satisfy the four requirements in Rule 23(a) of the

What Happened:

  • Last week, the Antitrust Division reported that it has changed its Justice Manual to state that it will consider antitrust compliance at the charging stage in criminal antitrust investigations, instead of waiting for plea negotiation or the sentencing stage.
  • Previously, the Antitrust Division had granted leniency only to the first whistleblower to come completely clean. Under the Antitrust Division’s policy reversal, this is no longer the only way to gain credit with the Antitrust Division, and the Antitrust Division will now consider if the Company has “robust” compliance programs when determining whether to bring charges.
  • With the announcement this past Thursday, the Antitrust Division published a guidance document that focuses on evaluating compliance programs in criminal antitrust investigations. This is the first time the Antitrust Division has published guidance on evaluating compliance programs in the context of criminal antitrust violations, and companies can now use this document to determine whether their compliance programs are in line with the Antitrust Division’s standards.
  • The Antitrust Division lists certain factors that Antitrust Division prosecutors should consider when evaluating the effectiveness of an antitrust compliance program. These are:
    1. The design and comprehensiveness of the program
    2. The culture of compliance within the company
    3. Responsibility for, and resources dedicated to, antitrust compliance
    4. Antitrust risk assessment techniques
    5. Compliance training and communication to employees
    6. Monitoring and auditing techniques, including continued review, evaluation and revision of the antitrust compliance program
    7. Reporting mechanisms
    8. Compliance incentives and discipline
    9. Remediation methods
  • In general, when analyzing a program, the Antitrust Division will ask whether the compliance program is well designed, whether it is being applied earnestly and in good faith, and whether it works.
  • Finally, the Antitrust Division also revised sections of its Manual on the processes for recommending indictments, plea agreements and selecting compliance monitors.


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WHAT HAPPENED:

  • The Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in three related cases in the Eastern District of Washington yesterday dealing with alleged “no-poach” (or non-solicitation) agreements between franchisors like Carl’s Jr, Auntie Anne’s and Arby’s and their franchisees.
  • In the statement, the DOJ distinguished between “naked” no-poach agreements between competitors and the

Today, New York health regulators proposed revised rules that would allow health care providers to merge or cooperate with one another without being subject to federal or state antitrust scrutiny.

The state’s Department of Health proposed regulations establishing a process for entities to obtain a Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) pursuant to Public Health Law

On October 11, 2013, the plaintiffs in the Detroit nurses litigation who have accused Detroit-area hospitals of conspiring to suppress their wages opposed VHS of Michigan, D/B/A Detroit Medical Center’s (DMC) petition to the Sixth Circuit for leave to appeal the district court’s decision granting class certification.

DMC had asked the Sixth Circuit to do

On October 10, 2013, Takata Corp. (Takata), a Japanese auto parts maker, agreed to pay a $71.3 million as part of a plea agreement for its role in an alleged conspiracy to fix prices on seat belts sold to car manufacturers.   In addition, Takata agreed that the Chairman-CEO, Shigehisa Takada, will take a 30 percent