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Blomkest Fertilizer, Inc. v Potash Corp. of Sask., Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
203 F.3d 1028 (2000)


Facts

Potash is a mineral used to make fertilizer. The North American potash industry was an oligopoly, with Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) (defendant) accounting for 38 percent of the market. In 1986, to address an overproduction problem that had driven potash prices down, the Canadian government privatized PCS. That same year, the New Mexico Potash Corporation (defendant) filed a complaint with the United States Department of Commerce, accusing PCS of dumping potash in the United States market and artificially lowering domestic prices. To resolve this complaint, in 1988, several potash producers signed a suspension agreement that set a minimum price for selling potash in the United States. Following the suspension agreement, PCS raised its prices, and other potash producers soon did the same. After that point, potash prices slowly declined, but the price remained markedly higher than it was before the suspension agreement. Blomkest Fertilizer, Inc. (plaintiff) sued PCS and seven other potash producers (defendants) on behalf of a class of potash consumers (plaintiffs). The plaintiffs argued that the defendants unlawfully colluded to increase the price of potash by communicating with each other about pricing on past sales and entering the suspension agreement. The defendants argued that the price increases were the result of the PCS privatization and the suspension agreement. The district court found the evidence was insufficient to prove an antitrust violation and granted summary judgment for the defendants. The plaintiffs appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Beam, J.)

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Dissent (Gibson, J.)

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