Chipping Away at the Illinois Brick Wall: The Use of Calder Jurisdiction in State Indirect Purchaser Litigation

Since the unraveling of the lysine price-fixing conspiracy, dramatized in the recent Hollywood film The Informant!, the rate of discovery of other price-fixing cartels has increased dramatically. When direct purchasers of the product “pass on” the overcharges to indirect purchasers—those purchasers more than one step removed in the chain of distribution from the conspirator, and often the end consumer—it is the indirect purchasers who bear the brunt of the harm. Indirect purchasers, however, are often barred from recovering damages. While many states, unlike the federal government, provide indirect purchasers with standing to file an antitrust suit against the violator, such actions are nonetheless often fruitless due to the lack of personal jurisdiction.This Note analyzes Supreme Court precedent in determining the issue of personal jurisdiction and proposes that the “effects test” set forth in Calder v. Jones should be used to extend personal jurisdiction over antitrust violators in indirect purchaser suits to states where the harm of the violation was felt. This Note argues that a liberal application of the Calder analysis is necessary given antitrust suits’ uniqueness, which distinguishes them from other intentional torts. This Note concludes that the use of Calder’s “effects test” to establish personal jurisdiction in indirect purchaser litigation is desirable from a policy standpoint, prevents circumvention of the purpose of legislation granting indirect purchasers standing to sue, and is consistent with “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.”

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.