Economists tell us that a “market” exists whenever a seller and buyer make an exchange. A lot of people think of the stock market, but there are countless other markets out there. Dairy farmers produce milk and shoppers buy it, creating a milk market. Oil companies produce gasoline and drivers buy it, creating a gasoline market. Ensuring that all of these markets remain free, fair, and open to competition is a task performed by federal and state antitrust laws. Here’s a brief summary of the law in South Dakota.
South Dakota’s Antitrust Laws
Most state antitrust laws prohibit certain unfair or predatory business practices. Government agencies can then bring criminal or civil cases against violators and injured persons can often sue them as well. South Dakota follows this general set up.
State law prohibits any agreement to restrain or monopolize any trade or commerce within the state. This may sound open-ended, but it’s written that way because monopolies can be established in different ways and the law seeks to prohibit them all. For example, a store that sells milk could slash the price of its milk in order to drive another milk-selling store out of business. Economists call this predatory pricing. But the store could also pay a milk distributor to charge the other store more for milk – thus forcing them to raise milk prices or lose money on selling milk. These are the kind of business shenanigans prohibited by South Dakota’s antitrust laws.
South Dakota’s antitrust laws can be enforced through state criminal prosecutions, civil actions brought by government agencies, and private lawsuits filed by anyone injured by an illegal business practice. A successful lawsuit can achieve injunctive relief putting a stop to the prohibited activity and monetary damages for any financial and property injuries sustained. There are other incentives to encourage antitrust lawsuits. Successful plaintiffs can receive treble damages (three-times their actual damages) and courts can award attorneys’ fees and litigation costs. The state does have a four-year time limit on bringing an antitrust lawsuit, however.
|Antitrust Code Section||37-1-3.1, et seq.|
|Is a Private Lawsuit Possible?||Yes. Anyone injured by a prohibited practice can sue.|
|Time Limit to Bring a Claim||Four years or one year after the state’s civil action concludes.|
|What Can a Lawsuit Achieve?||Injunctive relief, treble damages, attorneys' fees, and costs.|
Related Resources for Antitrust Laws
Antitrust is a complex legal specialty. You can find more information about antitrust and trade regulation and related information about consumer protection on these pages. If you have specific questions or believe that you may have a case, we recommend contacting a local antitrust lawyer for help.
Contact a qualified attorney.