Lingering Questions on Foreign Sovereignty and Separation of Powers After the Vitamin C Price-Fixing Verdict

Michael N. Sohn and Jesse Solomon, Antitrust, vol. 28, no. 1, Fall 2013, American Bar Association.

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This past spring, a New York Jury found Chinese manufacturers of vitamin C liable
for fixing prices of exports from China into the United States, in violation of U.S. antitrust laws. In the private suit, the jury awarded treble damages––$ 162.3 million—to a plaintiff class of direct purchasers of vitamin C, and, in so doing, it explicitly rejected
the Chinese vitamin C manufacturers’ central defense: that their agreement on prices was compelled by the Chinese government. That rejection is particularly striking because the Chinese government claimed responsibility for ordering the
manufacturers to fix the prices in question. Moreover, the U.S. executive branch, through the U.S. Trade Representative, alleged in a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the Chinese government had fixed prices of vitamin C exports.

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