Honors, Experience, and Accomplishments

Justin is an acclaimed antitrust litigator who has been honored with many awards, including, without limitation, by Super Lawyers® as a Rising Star in antitrust law over several consistent years. The Firm’s growth just within a year of its launch in 2021 has been explosive. Within a year, the Firm has helped launch antitrust class actions on behalf of named plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ classes in each of the following:

  • Casey’s Distributing, Inc., et al. v. Major League Baseball, et al. (S.D.N.Y.);
  • Casey’s Distributing, Inc., et al. v. National Football League, Inc., et al. (S.D.N.Y.); and
  • Dream Big Media, Inc., et al. v. Alphabet Inc., et al. (N.D. Cal.).

Prior to launching Nematzadeh PLLC in 2021, Justin has represented plaintiffs and defendants in several antitrust actions, such as the following:

  • Alaska Electrical Pension Fund, et al. v. Bank of America, N.A., et al. (S.D.N.Y.);
  • In re Aluminum Warehousing Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y.);
  • In re Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y.);
  • In re Generic Digoxin and Doxycycline Antitrust Litigation (E.D. Pa.);
  • In re LIBOR-Based Financial Instruments Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y.); and
  • In re Treasury Securities Auction Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y.).

Justin was a core member of the team in the In re Petrobras Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.), arising from a multi-billion-dollar bribery and price-fixing scheme. In 2018, he helped the team achieve a historic $3 billion settlement for the class, as well as precedent-setting legal rulings. At that time, this was the largest securities class action settlement in a decade, the largest securities class action settlement ever involving a foreign issuer, the largest securities class action settlement ever achieved by a foreign lead plaintiff, the largest securities class action settlement ever that did not involve a restatement of financial statements, and the fifth-largest class action settlement ever achieved in the United States. In praising the lawyers who worked on this historic class action, the Honorable Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York stated that the “lawyers in this case [are] some of the best lawyers in the United States, if not in the world.”

While practicing at some of the most prestigious plaintiffs-focused law firms in the world, Justin had played roles in over a dozen other actions that resulted in total recoveries amounting to over $530 million for plaintiffs. For example:

  • In re Altair Nanotechnologies Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.), recovery of approximately $1.5 million;
  • Carmack, et al. v. Amaya Inc., et al. (D.N.J.), recovery of approximately $5.75 million;
  • Calfo, et al. v. Messina, et al. (S.D.N.Y.), recovery of approximately $1.65 million;
  • Kaplan, et al. v. S.A.C. Capital Advisors, L.P., et al. (S.D.N.Y.), recovery of approximately $135 million;
  • Maleef, et al. v. B Communications Ltd., et al. (S.D.N.Y.), recovery of approximately $1.2 million; 
  • Mauss, et al. v. NuVasive, Inc., et al. (S.D. Cal.), recovery of approximately $7.9 million;
  • In re MF Global Holdings Limited Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.), recovery of over $230 million;
  • In re OSG Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.), recovery of over $30 million;
  • Perez, et al. v. Higher One Holdings, Inc., et al. (D. Conn.), recovery of approximately $7.5 million;
  • In re Retrophin, Inc. Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.), recovery of approximately $3 million;
  • Springer, et al. v. Code Rebel Corporation, et al. (S.D.N.Y.), recovery of approximately $1 million;
  • Waterford Township Police & Fire Retirement Sys., et al. v. Smithtown Bancorp, Inc., et al. (E.D.N.Y.), recovery of over $1.9 million; and
  • In re Yahoo! Inc. Securities Litigation (N.D. Cal.), recovery of approximately $80 million.

Justin’s understanding of accounting, business, corporate strategy, economics, and finance equips him with a lens that separates him from the pack. He brings this understanding to bear in representing plaintiffs or defendants. These experiences have heavily influenced Justin to represent entities or investors as lead plaintiffs in class actions, individual plaintiffs, or defendants and have equipped him with a perspective that many clients have appreciated and admired. His ability to decipher business operations, financial information, and elaborate conspiracies have enabled him to possess savviness in dealing with experts, economists, and accountants. He is able to distill complicated facts into captivating stories in advocating before judges, juries, arbitrators, mediators, and adversaries.

Which laws generally apply to antitrust and unfair competition actions?

Antitrust laws have been called the “Bill of Rights” and “Magna Carta” of the competitive system of free enterprise. The vigorous enforcement of antitrust laws assures businesses the ability to compete in an open marketplace and provides businesses and consumers with goods and services at potentially lower prices and potentially higher quality, diversity, and innovation.

In 1890, Congress passed the Sherman Act, and in 1914, the Clayton Antitrust Act (“Clayton Act”) (15 U.S.C. §§ 12-27) and Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. § 45), which created the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. These are the three core federal antitrust laws in effect today (with some revisions). The Sherman Act is a federal statute that prohibits activities that restrict interstate commerce and competition in the marketplace. Section 1 of the Sherman Act outlaws “every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations.” Section 2 of the Sherman Act outlaws “monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy or combination to monopolize.”

Some acts are considered so harmful to competition that they are deemed per se illegal by courts. No defenses or justifications are allowed. These “per se violations include, without limitation, agreements or understandings between competing businesses or individuals to fix prices, rig bids, fix supply, divide markets, tie products, or engage in other types of collusion.

Acts that are not deemed per se illegal may still violate antitrust and unfair competition laws under a “quick look” or “rule of reason” analysis. Whether these acts are illegal depends on whether they cause more anti-competitive effects than pro-competitive effects.

Private causes of action can also arise under state antitrust and unfair competition laws. The landscape of such laws is dynamic. For example, we are experienced in prosecuting and defending antitrust actions under Sections 340-47 of New York’s General Business Law, also known as the Donnelly Act (N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law §§ 340-347), which was enacted in 1899. Recent, progressive amendments to the Donnelly Act could be made through the “Twenty-First Century Anti-Trust Act.” These progressive reforms can make New York the nucleus for antitrust litigation. Nematzadeh PLLC’s headquarters in New York, our experience in antitrust litigation (not just in New York, but all over the U.S. and abroad), and our fingers being on the pulse of these proposed amendments poise us to be ready to represent plaintiffs and defendants in actions under the Donnelly Act.

What are the incentives and protections for bringing private antitrust actions or reporting violations to government regulators?

Private litigation by civil plaintiffs—whether through class actions, mass actions, multi-district litigation, individual actions, arbitration, actions abroad, or other means—is crucial to the enforcement of antitrust and unfair competition laws. Criminal fines often only fill government accounts; providing financial redress for private victims must often be achieved through private litigation.

To further incentivize litigants and demonstrate the importance of antitrust litigation, the Clayton Act provides for trebling of damages: your alleged damages are multiplied by three. You can also seek redress from harm through injunctive and declaratory relief that combats future unlawful behavior. The antitrust laws provide for legal fees and costs shifting upon success: defendants can be responsible to pay plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fees and costs. And the antitrust laws provide protections from retaliation against litigants.

Government regulators provide robust programs that incentivize confidential whistleblowers and informants to reveal antitrust schemes; these confidential whistleblowers and informants can be entitled to meaningful incentive payments for helping government regulators seek justice and have the benefit of protection from retaliation. Whistleblowers or government investigations often expose antitrust conspiracies. In the U.S., the main government regulators who enforce antitrust and unfair competition laws (federal and state) are the Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, Federal Trade Commission, and States Attorneys General. If businesses or individuals believe that they have violated the antitrust laws, government regulators provide incentives for self-reporting.

What are examples of antitrust violations?

Depending on the facts, the exemplar violations summarized below may be subject to liability under the “per se,” “quick look,” or “rule of reason” analysis.

  • Price Fixing: Competitors commit price-fixing when they collude to raise, maintain, or slow down drops in prices of goods or services. Price fixing may exist even if there is no agreement on a specific price to be charged. Any agreement, understanding, or meeting of the minds—whether it be written, verbal, or inferred from conduct—among competitors with the purpose of affecting the price of a product or service will violate antitrust laws. Smoking-gun evidence is not required; often, such schemes are demonstrated through circumstantial and economic evidence. Price fixing relates not only to prices but also to other terms that affect prices, including, without limitation, shipping fees, warranties, discount programs, and financing rates. And employers who collude to avoid poaching employees or independent contractors from each other or otherwise affect terms of employment or independent contractor agreements could face liability. Price fixing is unlawful when committed by either buyers or sellers.
  • Bid Rigging: Bid-rigging occurs when parties collude to determine the winner of a bidding process. This type of illegal activity is commonplace in industries where contracts are awarded by soliciting competitive bids—for example, auctions, government-procurement contracts, infrastructure projects, or real estate developments. Such processes are designed to hinge on the invisible hand of capitalism and competition; bid-riggers short-circuit this invisible hand unlawfully. There are many forms of bid-rigging. A common practice is referred to as complementary bidding, in which competitors agree to submit bids that are either too high or low, contain unrealistic terms to be accepted, or even avoid bidding. Competitors often designate one company to win a bid with the understanding that the remaining companies will be designated to win subsequent bids. The ultimate goal is to give the appearance of competitive bidding in order to make the winning bid seem fair and reasonable. Over time, competitors often engage in this unlawful activity in order to provide each conspirator with a share of the business.
  • Supply Agreements: It is not just about price. Competitors violate antitrust and unfair competition laws when they collude to raise, maintain, or lower supplies of goods or services. Similarly to price fixing, supply fixing is unlawful.
  • Customer Allocations or Market Division: Customer allocation or market division schemes are anticompetitive agreements in which competitors allocate or divide markets among themselves. A claim may arise when competitors agree to allocate or divide customers, products, services, or geographic territories.
  • Group Boycotts: Group boycotts exists when competitors agree to take some form of joint action to exclude someone from the market. This anticompetitive act can take the form of concerted refusals to deal and can be intended to freeze out another competitor, supplier, or customer.
  • Tying: Depending on the monopoly or market power of a business or other factors, it can be subject to “per se” liability for tying, bundling, or otherwise tethering the purchase or sale of one product or service with the purchase or sale of another product or service. Negative tying can also arise when a company forbids a claimant from doing business with another.
  • Information Sharing: Antitrust liability can arise from the sharing between competitors—even through an intermediary, such as a consultant or trade association—of sensitive information, including, without limitation, prices, promotions, bids, revenue, costs, margins, profits, supply, capacity, production, credit terms, customers, geography, product markets, business plans, marketing plans, new product or technological developments, or research and development. Several factors inform whether such information sharing is unlawful: whether the information is being collected by a trade association or other third party; whether the information will be disseminated in a manner that hides the providers’ identities; whether the information contains historical data, current data, or prospective data; whether the data providers constitute significant market share; whether the data is already publicly available; whether there is a fee to access the data; and whether the product or service is a commodity in nature. Liability for information exchanges often hinges on the competitive effects of exchanging such information. But if the information exchange is a mechanism to effectuate price-fixing, it can even be illegal under a “per se” analysis.
  • Standard Setting and Purported Best Practices: Product or service standards are often developed by private industry and spearheaded by trade associations. Such standards should be supported by legitimate business justifications. But if competitors collude to impose such standards, especially standards not supported by legitimate business justifications, they can be subject to liability for excluding competitors through standard-setting. In particular, professional associations promulgate standards of conduct or codes of professional responsibility for association members. If these standards are reasonably designed and enforced to protect the public from scrupulous practices, there are legitimate business justifications for them; on the contrary, if these standards are unreasonably designed and enforced to eliminate competition, there are illegitimate business justifications. These standards can trigger liability.
  • Price Discrimination and Predatory Pricing: A business can be subject to liability for price discrimination or predatory pricing when done to eliminate competition.
  • Resale-Price Maintenance: Resale-price maintenance may be another form of price-fixing and is often called vertical price-fixing. For example, it occurs when a manufacturer or distributor agrees with its retailer-customer that the retailer must resell the item purchased at or above a specific price. A subtle, distinct form of resale-price maintenance could be minimum-advertised-price agreements. These forms of vertical price-fixing may be unlawful under federal or state antitrust and unfair competition laws—for example, these agreements may violate the California Cartwright Act and the New York Donnelly Act.

How do antitrust laws intersect with intellectual property laws?

Intellectual property and trade secrets laws protect the intangibles created with products, services, and technology. Intellectual property litigation includes, without limitation, patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secrets disputes. But intellectual property rights do not give businesses a get-out-of-jail-free card for colluding, unlawfully monopolizing a market or exercising market power, or otherwise unreasonably restraining competition. Companies can be liable for leveraging patents, trademarks, copyrights, or trade secrets to harm competition.

For example, pharmaceutical companies can face antitrust liability for executing anticompetitive pay-for-delay deals with generic-drug companies. Another example is the use of Standard Essential Patents (“SEP”) that give patent holders the power to determine who may participate in a market by their SEP licensing decisions. Antitrust law is an essential part of SEP patents, which are typically subject to Fair and Reasonable Non-Discriminatory (“FRAND”) obligations. Breach of a FRAND commitment given in exchange for standardization of the underlying technology can have a market-wide impact and serious antitrust implications.

What are the general contours of liability for monopolization?

It is not necessarily illegal to have monopoly power; rather, how a business attains monopoly power or maintains it can trigger liability under Section 2 of the Sherman Act. Such liability can be triggered by monopolization, a conspiracy to monopolize, or attempted monopolization. The dividing line for liability often hinges on whether the business attained or maintained such market power through, one the one hand, a superior product, lower prices, innovation, or other merit, versus through, on the other hand, exclusionary, manipulative, misleading, predatory, unlawful, or otherwise restrictive practices resulting in anticompetitive effects that outweigh procompetitive effects.

Anticompetitive conduct is conduct that could impair or exclude rivals, suppliers, or customers and either (i) does not further competition on the merits or (ii) does so in an unnecessarily restrictive way. Another factor that could be salient for this analysis is if a business has unjustifiably changed a pre-existing, competitive pattern. Several types of exclusionary acts can trigger liability, including, without limitation, tying, negative tying, bundling, exclusive supply or purchase contracts, predatory or below-cost pricing, refusals to deal with customers, suppliers, or competitors, blocking market access, or anticompetitive use of intellectual property rights and the judicial process.

How are mergers, acquisitions, or joint ventures assessed under antitrust laws?

Section 7 of the Clayton Act is the principal federal antitrust statute used to challenge mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures that may harm competition. It prohibits transactions that substantially lessen competition or tend to create monopoly power. Businesses that plan to engage in mergers, acquisitions, or joint ventures are well served to retain experienced antitrust counsel to help them navigate the process of clearing such transactions with government regulators. Even private litigants have standing to sue and stop mergers, acquisitions, or joint ventures that substantially lessen competition or tend to create monopoly power. Even if mergers, acquisitions, or joint ventures are approved, private parties may still sue to challenge them. Many mergers, acquisitions, or joint ventures are not reviewed by antitrust agencies, and these may also be challenged by affected private parties.

We have experience representing parties suing under Section 7 of the Clayton Act to combat anticompetitive mergers, acquisitions, or joint ventures. And we have experience in assisting companies that want to raise objections to proposed mergers, acquisitions, or joint ventures—either publicly or confidentially—to government regulators in the U.S. or abroad.

Also, we have experience defending parties effectuating mergers or acquisitions in negotiating with and responding to government regulators’ investigations, including, without limitation, Hart-Scott-Rodino reporting, reporting requirements globally, and negotiating and responding to Second Requests, investigative demands, and third-party subpoenas.

Advising on a merger, acquisition, or joint venture can entail a totality of strategic representation that includes the following steps:

  • Analyze the transaction’s potential competitive effects;
  • Execute global assessments to determine where filings may be required and evaluate their implications on deal certainty, timing, and outcome;
  • Advise on the structure of transactions and their impact on the number and scope of required merger filings;
  • Advise on the drafting of deal documentation;
  • Design and implement a strategy to secure clearance or narrow and expedite a second request;
  • Advise on gun-jumping or information-sharing limits during due diligence and pre-closing activities;
  • Design and implement a pre-merger mechanism to expedite and capture merger synergies and accelerate post-merger integration;
  • Identify remedies for anticipated challenger areas, such as structural divestitures and behavioral consent agreements to ensure clearance, where necessary; and
  • Conduct investigations into antitrust problems that may be revealed in due diligence or post-closing.

What are unfair competition laws?

Unfair competition laws are covered by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and private parties can sue under state unfair competition laws or common law. These laws aim to protect competition on the merits by shielding honest businesses from abusive, deceptive, or otherwise wrongful conduct by competitors. Examples of unlawful conduct include anti-competitive market practices, interference with business relationships, deceptive trade practices, false and misleading advertising, fraud or other types of misrepresentations, defamation or trade libel, trademark and trade dress infringement, trade secret misappropriation, or domain infringement or cybersquatting.

Information About Class Actions

A wealth of information about class actions—an extremely effective mechanism to pursue antitrust litigation—can be found on our website under the Class Actions tab, including, without limitation, a summary of the benefits and procedures for pursuing a class action.

What are monitoring options to make sure that you do not lose a valuable claim or comply with laws?

Individuals, businesses, asset managers, financial institutions, government entities, and public or private institutional investors constantly lose out on valuable claims, whether through missed litigation opportunities or even failing to submit a claim form to participate in settlements. We are here to help. The Firm has a streamlined, efficient system to monitor your rights to claims. A claimant’s decision about whether to pursue a class action, mass action, multi-district litigation, individual action, arbitration, or even just submit a claim raises complex questions. Some of them include whether unlawful activity occurred, what are the extent of damages, what are the claimant’s damages and potential recovery, and what course of action will maximize recovery. We implement a methodical, client-specific approach to provide counsel that is based on thorough analysis and strategic recommendations.

Clients and potential clients’ damages are estimated. We analyze potential claims, defenses, and the probability of recovery. Then, we present case evaluations to the client or potential client’s decision-makers or other representatives when damages meet the client or potential client’s threshold and other criteria. We advise clients or potential clients on whether to participate in a class action, file a claim, opt out and file an individual action, or not pursue litigation. And we track settled class actions to help clients and potential clients collect on their claims.

Our role is not only to protect your business. We strive to enable it. By understanding our clients’ business rationale and ultimate objectives, we are able to identify and implement solutions that avoid prohibited behavior and mitigate risk from impermissible conduct. We strive to present practicable and workable advice with honest recommendations and frank assessments of risks and rewards of actions. Compliance programs can entail the following, without limitation: policy development, employee education and training, monitoring and detection, program design and implementation, program evaluation and modification, and risk assessment.

Notable Representations

  • Casey’s Distributing, Inc., et al., v. Major League Baseball, et al. (S.D.N.Y.)
  • Casey’s Distributing, Inc., et al., v. National Football League, Inc., et al. (S.D.N.Y.)
  • Dream Big Media, Inc., et al. v. Alphabet Inc., et al. (N.D. Cal.)

Notable Representations at Law Firms Prior to 2021 Launch

  • Alaska Electrical Pension Fund, et al. v. Bank of America, N.A., et al. (S.D.N.Y.)
  • In re Aluminum Warehousing Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y.)
  • In re Foreign Exchange Benchmark Rates Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y.)
  • In re Generic Digoxin and Doxycycline Antitrust Litigation (E.D. Pa.)
  • In re LIBOR-Based Financial Instruments Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y.)
  • In re Petrobras Securities Litigation (S.D.N.Y.)
  • In re Treasury Securities Auction Antitrust Litigation (S.D.N.Y.)

Writings, Presentations, and Speaking Engagements

  • American Bar Association, Antitrust Law Developments (Contributor)
  • Matthew Bender, Antitrust Laws and Trade Regulation (Contributor)
  • American Bar Association, Model Jury Instructions in Civil Antitrust Cases (Contributor)
  • Knowledge Group’s Conference, “Latest Trends and Developments in Federal Securities Investigation: What to Expect in 2015 and Beyond,” October 20, 2015 (Speaker and Presenter)

Contact Us

Contact Nematzadeh PLLC by calling 646-417-8424 or emailing lawyer@nematlawyers.com for a confidential, free consultation. We partner with our clients long-term by being able to creatively formulate hybrid legal fees, including contingency fees.