Friday, October 20, 2006

Totally Unjustified Antitrust Suit of the Day, No. 1

By definition, every antitrust suit is unjustified. By criminalizing the actions of a businessman in the free market, the antitrust laws equate everyday enterprise with outright coercion. That said, some antitrust suits are more unjustified than others. Take this one for example:

A Russian hockey club filed an antitrust lawsuit Thursday against the NHL and the Pittsburgh Penguins, saying rookie Evgeni Malkin shouldn't be allowed to play in the league because he remains under contract in his native country.

The Metallurg Magnitogorsk hockey club, which filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, also demanded unspecified damages from the NHL and the Penguins over Malkin's deal to jump teams this summer. [AP via the St. Petersburg Times]
If the Russian hockey club has a legal case, why isn't it against Evgeni Malkin, for alleged breach of contract, rather than against the NHL and the Penguins for "restraint of trade" under antitrust?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you are hiring an employee, and you know that the employee, by working for you, is violating an existing contract, then you are committing a tort against the original contractor -- tortious interference with a contract. You are inducing the employee to violate his contractual commitments. Inducing someone to violate an existing agreement can also give rise to causes of action for anti-competitiveness.

Nicholas Provenzo said...

>If you are hiring an employee, and you know that the employee, by working for you, is violating an existing contract, then you are committing a tort against the original contractor -- tortious interference with a contract.

I have no issue with tortious interference, which draws its roots from the English common law and is a rational defense against someone intentionally causing damage to one's existing relationships. The antitrust action in this case is nothing more than the exploitation of a bad law that equate contracts themselves with “restraint of trade” and it is wholly unnecessary and unjustified in the pursuit of actual damages.