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Iowa Antitrust Laws

The cornerstone of the American economic ideal is business competition. To restrain free trade contradicts that economic model. Therefore, to protect consumers, federal and state antitrust laws have been developed to prohibit the intentional creation of monopolies and agreements between businesses that reduce competition. Although these are usually called antitrust laws, in the Hawkeye State, this law is aptly called the “Iowa Competition Law.”

In Iowa, the state agency that investigates and enforces the antitrust laws is the Office of the Attorney General, in their Consumer Protection Division. You can file a complaint about a business online or by mailing the complaint in. For more information, call the Attorney General’s Office at 1-888-777-4590.

The following chart details the competition or antitrust laws in Iowa.

Code Sections Iowa Code Chapter 553 – Iowa Competition Law
What is Prohibited? Iowa prohibits any of the following anti-competitive business activities:
  • Contracts or conspiracies between two or more people to restrain or monopolize commerce in a market
  • Establish or attempt to establish or maintain a monopoly in any market for the purpose of excluding competition or fixing prices
Penalties A few of the civil penalties possible for breaking antitrust laws in Iowa are:
  • An injunction or restraining order prohibiting the business from continuing the prohibited activity
  • Civil penalty of not more than 10% of the total value of the commodities or services involved in the prohibited activities, but not more than $150,000 in any case
  • Actual damages or financial losses
  • Exemplary damages up to twice the actual damages, if the bad behavior was willful or flagrant and an individual sues the violator
  • Contractors for goods or services for government agencies will be barred from bidding on government contracts for 1 year following an antitrust conviction in any state or federal court

Some of the criminal penalties for breaking the antitrust laws are:

  • A person who knowingly engages in prohibited activity for an enterprise he or she has substantial control over commits a serious misdemeanor. The penalty for a serious misdemeanor is a $315 to $1,875 fine and up to 1 year in jail.
  • A person who knowingly bid rigs or price fixes for a government contract commits a Class D Felony that can be punished by

Note that a person will either be sued in civil court or be prosecuted in criminal court, but not both.

State Agency The Iowa Office of the Attorney General investigates and sues violators of the state antitrust laws. Sometimes the local county attorney may also assist the Attorney General in criminal and civil antitrust actions.
Private Lawsuits Yes, both the state and individuals who have been harmed by an antitrust law violator can bring a lawsuit against the lawbreaker.
Time Limit to Bring Claim Civil or criminal actions for antitrust violations in Iowa must be brought within 4 years. This time limit is called a “statute of limitations” and prevents individuals from worrying about going to jail for a minor crime committed many years ago.
Attorney Fees Yes, an individual plaintiff can recover attorney fees from a defendant if he or she wins. However, the state can’t get its costs of prosecution and investigation covered by the defendant.

Note: State laws change frequently. It’s best to contact an experienced Iowa antitrust lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these state laws.

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