Supreme Court Will Hear Chinese Vitamin C Case

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By Fawn Johnson

The U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 12 agreed to review an appeals court’s decision to vacate a judgment against two Chinese companies of vitamin C price fixing.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 2015 overturned a $147 million district court judgment against Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. more than 10 years after they were accused of fixing the price of vitamin C in violation of U.S. antitrust laws.

The panel of judges ruled that the companies were compelled by the Chinese government to fix prices for the vitamin sold to U.S. companies.

The defendants couldn’t have complied both with Chinese law and U.S. antitrust law simultaneously, the appeals court held. Applying principles of international comity, Chinese law should trump when the conduct involves Chinese companies acting on Chinese soil.

The justices will consider whether a U.S. court is “bound to defer” to a foreign government’s legal statement as a matter of international comity.

In June, the high court asked the solicitor general to weigh in with the U.S. government’s point of view.

The case is Animal Science Prods., Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharm. Co. , U.S., No. 16-1220, cert. granted 1/12/18

To contact the reporter on this story: Fawn Johnson in Washington at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kamans at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com

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