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American Key Corp. v. Cole National Corp.

762 F.2d 1569 (1985)

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American Key Corp. v. Cole National Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

762 F.2d 1569 (1985)

Facts

American Key Corp. (plaintiff) was a key shop. In 1977 American Key rented space in Cumberland Mall (the mall) in Atlanta, Georgia, which was owned by Cumberland Associates (Cumberland). Carter & Associates, Inc. (Carter), a rental agent who worked for Cumberland, negotiated the lease. A Sears (defendant) store inside the mall housed a key shop operated by Cole National Corp. (Cole) (defendant). American Key began experiencing financial difficulties. In 1980, after American Key wrote four checks that were returned for insufficient funds, Carter decided not to renew American Key’s lease. Carter and Cumberland allowed American Key to remain in the mall for 30 days after its lease expired and sent a contract to American Key laying out the terms of the agreement. American Key returned the contract to Carter and Cumberland but altered the contract to allow American Key to remain in the mall for 30 years after its lease expired, rather than 30 days. Carter filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to evict American Key. In response, American Key filed a lawsuit in federal district court against Sears and Cole, alleging that the companies violated § 2 of the Sherman Act by attempting to monopolize the sale of replacement keys in large shopping malls. To support its claims, American Key presented expert testimony from Dr. Henry concluding that Sears and Cole had monopoly power in the purported relevant markets. To craft his testimony, Dr. Henry relied on facts alleged by American Key. Sears and Cole moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motions, finding that the relevant product market in the case was replacement keys and that the relevant geographic market included large malls, hardware stores, drug stores, and locksmiths. The district court concluded that American Key had failed to produce evidence showing that Sears or Cole had monopoly power in the relevant markets. American Key appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Atkins, J.)

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