Green Plains alleged ADM had “uneconomically” shipped ethanol to Argo when prices at the terminal were “already lower than those at other terminals.”
Plaintiffs alleged ADM “sacrificed its profits” on physical ethanol sales to leverage “even larger profits” on derivatives contracts.
The court also dismissed a similar lawsuit brought by Midwest Renewable Energy on Aug. 9, ruling in part that ADM’s actions did not constitute antitrust injury. Antitrust injury is a loss that results in reduced output or higher prices.
“Low prices benefit consumers regardless of how those prices are set, and so long as they are above predatory levels, they do not threaten competition,” the court said.
“Hence, they cannot give rise to antitrust injury. Therefore, the injury alleged in Plaintiff’s Complaint does not constitute an antitrust injury sufficient to support its claim under the Clayton and Sherman Antitrust Acts, unless plaintiff alleges that ADM depressed prices below a predatory level.”
Midwest’s complaint alleged that after Nov. 1, 2017, ADM captured 90% to 100% of sales during the half hour trading market-on-close window at Argo.
“However, the proposed market is not limited to the MOC,” the court said in its ruling. “The complaint does not allege ADM’s share of the relevant market. Because the complaint does not adequately allege either direct evidence of anticompetitive effects or ADM’s share of the relevant market, it is dismissed without prejudice.”
Similar lawsuits filed by AOT Holding AG and six ethanol companies remain on track for a 2024 trial.
In November 2020, Wisconsin producers United Wisconsin Grain Producers, Didion Ethanol, Ace Ethanol, Fox River Valley Ethanol, Badger State Ethanol and Iowa producer Pine Lake Corn filed their lawsuit.
Unless a settlement is reached, the remaining cases are likely to take years to resolve.
According to a court order, a trial is scheduled for Jan. 30, 2024. All sides have until Nov. 18, 2022, to complete discovery.
Read more on DTN:
“Ethanol Price Manipulation Case Moves,” https://www.dtnpf.com/…
“ADM Trial Set for 2024,” https://www.dtnpf.com/…
“Ethanol Case Moves to Illinois,”
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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