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Wilcox Development Co. v. First Interstate Bank of Oregon

United States District Court for the District of Oregon
605 F. Supp. 592 (1985)


Wilcox Development Co. and other entities and individuals (collectively, plaintiffs) sued First Interstate Bank of Oregon (FIOR) and another banking institution (Banks) (collectively, defendants) in four separate actions that were consolidated for trial in a federal district court in Oregon. Plaintiffs alleged that the Banks violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, by agreeing to set their prime interest rates at an artificial, anticompetitive level. There was no evidence of an explicit agreement by the Banks. Plaintiffs argued that an agreement could be inferred by the following combination of events: the homogeneity of prime interest rates among the Banks and other lenders; the Banks’ access to publicly available information about changes in prime rates throughout the country; and the attendance of Bank employees at conventions, which allegedly afforded them the opportunity to conspire. Trial testimony of expert witnesses for both plaintiffs and the Banks established that the prime rate was a national rate determined by national economic conditions and that a bank’s divergence from the national rate would be foolhardy and financially impracticable to maintain. FIOR presented evidence that it made decisions about its prime rate on the basis of a process not shared by other banks. A jury rendered a decision for the plaintiffs. The Banks moved for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, for a new trial.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Redden, J.)

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