The Court addressed again the issue of indirect purchaser standing under the North Carolina antitrust laws in these consolidated cases. It held that although such purchasers do have standing, there are limitations on that standing which barred the claims of the plaintiffs and it granted defendants’ motion to dismiss.
In the first case, the plaintiffs were purchasers of automobile tires whose price had been affected by collusion on the price of rubber. In the second, the plaintiffs were credit card holders who claimed they had paid higher prices for goods as a result of illegal tying arrangements by the credit card issuers.
After a thorough discussion of the history of recognition of indirect purchaser claims in North Carolina, the Court determined that it would apply a multifactor test to determine whether plaintiffs had standing, including a consideration of (1) whether the plaintiff is a consumer or competitor in the allegedly restrained market, (2) the directness of the impact on the plaintiff, (3) whether there exist other indirect purchasers in the distribution chain who are more directly impacted by the alleged violatin, (4) the speculative nature of the damage claims, and (5) the risk of duplicative recovery and danger of complex apportionment of damages."
It analyzed each case under this approach and held that neither class of plaintiffs had standing.