A recent federal court decision from the Southern District of Ohio provides a cautionary tale on why the way you frame your complaint matters, and serves as a reminder to plead alternative causes of action even where you intend to focus your evidentiary efforts on one claim.
The case concerned an antitrust claim under the Sherman Act by a hospital in Dayton against several other hospitals that were alleged to have conspired to drive the plaintiff out of business. In a lengthy decision
, the court provided a comprehensive analysis of the alternative methods of proving an antitrust claim, and determined that the “rule of reason” – and not the “per se” rule – applied to the plaintiff’s claims. Despite overwhelming evidence that the case would have gone to a jury under the “rule of reason,” the court dismissed the action because the plaintiff had only asserted a “per se” claim, and had not pled a “rule of reason” claim in the alternative.
Even if your eyes glaze over at the mere mention of “antitrust,” you’ll find the decision (which even the court admitted was the “legal equivalent of ‘inside baseball’”), instructive in all business litigation matters as you frame your claims as expansively as possible.