Washington Law Review


In addition to traditional constitutional standing analysis, federal antitrust law examines a potential plaintiff's claims under a series of specialized standing requirements. One of these requirements is that the plaintiff's injury be a "direct" result of the antitrust violator's misconduct. This requirement has been prominent in recent tobacco litigation where union health care trust funds sued the major tobacco companies in antitrust to recover the costs of treating nicotine-addicted beneficiaries. Federal courts generally denied standing to the trust funds for several reasons, one of which was the trust funds' failure to satisfy the directness requirements. This Comment analyzes the tests that the U.S. Supreme Court has used to determine whether a plaintiff's injuries are sufficiently direct to grant antitrust standing. It argues that these tests-the direct purchaser rule, the cost-plus contract exception, and the direct injury requirement-should be consolidated and restated as a "first economic injury" rule, under which standing is awarded, assuming other standing requirements are met, to the party that suffers the first economic impacts of the antitrust violation. This Comment concludes that although the courts may have properly denied standing to the trust funds for other reasons, the courts erred in declaring that the trust funds failed to satisfy any directness requirement

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