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Bruce D. Sokler

Member / Chair, Antitrust Practice

[email protected]

+1.202.434.7303

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Bruce is a prominent antitrust attorney who is accomplished at the full range of antitrust matters: litigation and class actions, government merger reviews and investigations, and cartel-related issues. Although the health care, communications, and retail industries are a particular focus for Bruce, he represents companies in many other sectors. His client roster ranges from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies to nonprofit organizations. Bruce served as Managing Member of the firm’s Washington, DC office for 12 years and on the firm’s Executive Committee for 13 years.

Bruce is Chair of the Antitrust Section. He applies his extensive experience, understanding of clients' business, and judgment developed over decades in private practice to a broad range of antitrust matters, including government merger reviews and investigations and antitrust litigation. Chambers USA reports that “he is among those who can be a real go to."

In the antitrust area, Bruce’s practice includes antitrust counseling and representation in connection with federal and state governmental matters, including merger review, HSR second requests, and cartel matters, as well as private antitrust litigation, including class actions. He counsels and has represented Fortune 100 companies, not-for-profits, start-up entities, trade associations, and domestic and international joint ventures. Bruce has been involved in antitrust matters spanning a broad range of industries, but has particularly deep experience in the health care, communications, and retail industries. For example, Chambers USA attests that “he is one of those guys who understands the healthcare competition aspects very well.”

Bruce served as the Managing Member for the firm’s Washington, DC office from 1989 to 2001, and served on the firm’s Executive Committee from 1989 to 2002. He has been annually recognized by Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, and Chambers USA for Antitrust: Washington, DC.

During law school, he served as editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Law Journal. Following his graduation from Georgetown, Bruce served as law clerk to Judge Edward Allen Tamm of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Education

  • Georgetown University (JD)
  • Princeton University (BA)

Experience

  • Counseling Cox Communications on legal and regulatory issues arising in connection with oversight of the cable industry by the FCC and state agencies. In addition to counseling on regulatory and policy matters affecting Cox’s business, the firm’s work includes assisting with filings and submissions to the FCC and Congressional Committees on policy issues and representing Cox in defense of a class action lawsuit challenging the manner in which set-top converter boxes are made available to subscribers by Cox (and other cable operators).
  • Served as antitrust counsel to one of the largest American retail pharmacies. Our team represented the corporation in its transactions, litigation, and other matters before both state and federal antitrust authorities.
  • Represented a market leading producer and distributor of environmentally-safe household products in its acquisition by another transnational consumer goods company.
  • Represented a cable company in the first successful FTC clearance of the acquisition of an overbuilt cable system.
  • Served as antitrust counsel for a leading provider of sample and assay technologies, and are currently involved in counseling and representing the company in merger and acquisition activities.
  • Represented one of the nation’s premier pharmacy chains in its $27 billion acquisition of a “big three” pharmacy benefits manager.
  • Represented one of the nation’s leading hospital and physicians network in parallel DOJ Antitrust Division and State Attorney General investigations.
  • Obtained an order denying certification of a national class in an MDL antitrust class action involving 20 cases consolidated from around the country alleging an illegal tying arrangement in connection with the offering of set top boxes and premium cable services.
  • Served as antitrust counsel for a hospital in its merger with another medical center.
  • Served as counsel for Oregon Scientific, Inc. (“OSI”) in many class action cases around the country concerning the sale of certain types of flat panel display screens. The MDL case was consolidated to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, but we represented the clients in multiple states. We secured dismissals for OSI with no out of pocket damages or settlement costs.
  • Represented a leading provider of sample and assay technologies in the antitrust aspects of its $1.5 billion acquisition of another life sciences company.
  • Represented major cable television providers and major programming networks in connection with a high-profile merger proceeding before the Department of Justice and state attorneys general.
  • Served as lead counsel for an American telecom company in a purported nationwide antitrust class action. The suit alleged that the cable operator’s practice of leasing set-top boxes to customers who also purchase cable television services constitutes an illegal antitrust tie.
  • Represented an American retail and pharmacy chain in an antitrust class action alleging unfair restriction for participation in a Rhode Island pharmacy network. We obtained summary judgment for the defendants, which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Represented the regional council for a construction trade union in connection with a lawsuit brought by other trade unions alleging that provisions in the defendant’s collective bargaining agreements governing subcontracting of work within the defendant’s claimed trade jurisdiction result in an illegal restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act.
  • Represent a defendant major electronic component manufacturer in class action cartel antitrust litigation.
  • Represented Comcast, as successor to AT&T Broadband, in a lawsuit alleging that AT&T Broadband misrepresented the nature of the network access fee for interstate calling that AT&T imposed on its local phone service customers. We obtained dismissal of all claims by the trial court and won a decision on appeal affirming the dismissal.
  • Represented a cable network in a dispute against an Internet programming distributor. The two companies had an agreement that allowed the distributor to carry the cable network under certain circumstances. The cable network terminated for breach of the terms. The Internet programming distributor sued under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.
  • Represented one of the largest American retail pharmacies in the antitrust aspects of its $2.7 billion acquisition of an American drugstore chain.
  • Represented one of the nation’s leading hospital and physicians networks in connection with its acquisitions of three community hospitals and a large physician group.
  • Served as lead counsel for a major telecommunications carrier in multidistrict litigation involving 20 separate antitrust class action suits that have been consolidated. The suits allege that the cable industry’s practice of leasing set-top boxes to customers who also purchase cable television services constitutes an illegal tying arrangement under the antitrust laws.
  • Represent one of the nation's most prestigious health care providers and hospital groups, since its creation over 20 years ago, to help it make smooth and efficient acquisitions and respond effectively to government investigations.

Recognition & Awards

  • Chambers USA: District of Columbia – Antitrust (2012 – 2017)
  • Washington DC Super Lawyers: Antitrust Litigation (2012 – 2018)
  • Best Lawyers in America: Antitrust Law (2012 – 2019)
  • Nightingale’s Healthcare News: Outstanding Healthcare Antitrust Lawyer (2007 – 2009)
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent

Involvement

  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, District of Columbia Bar Association
  • Member, Federal Communications Bar Association
  • Member, National Health Lawyers Association

Viewpoints

Viewpoint
Read about a US District Court’s denial of Landmark Theaters’ dismissal motion in an exclusive dealing Sherman Act antitrust case brought by independent movie theaters.
Viewpoint
In September 25, 2018 remarks at the 2018 Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim announced the Department of Justice’s plan to modernize and expedite the DOJ merger review process. This article outlines the changes to the merger review process, which the DOJ now plans to complete within six months of the parties’ Hart-Scott-Rodino filings.
Viewpoint
Last week, Bruce Sokler and Farrah Short from Mintz’s Antitrust practice group published a detailed alert regarding the Third Circuit’s reinstatement of an antitrust suit brought by medical device manufacturer LifeWatch Services, Inc. (“LifeWatch”) against the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and five of its member insurance plan administrators: LifeWatch
The Third Circuit reinstated an antitrust suit brought by a medical device seller that alleged Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and five of its member insurance plan administrators shut out the seller by conspiring to deny coverage for its device. LifeWatch Services Inc. v. Highmark Inc. et al., Case No. 17-1990 (3rd Cir. Aug. 28, 2018). Critical to the Third Circuit’s reversal of the lower court’s dismissal of the suit was market definition. In this buyer-side conspiracy case, where the seller alleged a concerted refusal to deal by purchasers of its product, the relevant market is comprised of buyers who are seen by the seller as reasonably good substitutes for each other regarding the purchase of its product. Thus “[a] concerted refusal to deal with all sellers of telemetry monitors, regardless of its equality, may still restrain competition in the alleged market for the purchase of outpatient cardiac monitors.” The lower court had instead focused on the market for the seller’s product.

Earlier this week, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the case of Gold Medal LLC v. USA Track & Field.  The decision, on appeal from the District Court for the District of Oregon, rejected allegations that USA Track & Field (USATF) and the United States Olympics Committee (USOC) engaged in an anticompetitive conspiracy in violation of antitrust law by imposing certain advertising restrictions during Olympic Trials. 
The Premerger Notification Office (the “PNO”) of the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) recently issued a reminder about often overlooked “transactions” that may require notification under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (the “HSR Act”).
You don’t think of sports website FanGraphs as a go-to source for legal analysis?
The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced a new initiative to terminate “legacy” antitrust judgments that “no longer protect competition.” In 1979, the DOJ adopted a general practice to include sunset provisions that automatically terminate judgments, typically 10 years after entry.
Since 2013, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has faced a series of purported class actions consolidated in the U.S. District Court in Alabama.
In broad language, a Third Circuit panel affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a monopoly suit against Uber Technologies Inc. (“Uber”). Philadelphia Taxi Association Inc. v. Uber Technologies Inc., Case No. 17-1871 (3rd Cir. Mar. 27, 2018).

News & Press

Mintz partner and Massachusetts lawyer Julie Korostoff is one of 49 attorneys recognized as “Leaders in Their Fields” by the 2018 Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business guide. Chambers named Korostoff a “Recognized Practitioner” in Technology.
Mintz is pleased to announce that eight attorneys have been named Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers for 2018 and three others have been named Washington, D.C. Rising Stars. The annual publication identifies lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
Mintz is proud to be recognized by JD Supra in its 2018 Reader’s Choice awards. The annual program highlights the most widely read authors and articles throughout the past year. Five Mintz attorneys were named JD Supra Top Authors in four different industries.
Bruce Sokler, the Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust practice, was quoted in Law360’s article on a February 26th Supreme Court case regarding a dispute over anti-steering provisions in American Express merchant agreements.
Bruce Sokler is the Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust practice is quoted in this Managed Care Magazine article on the subject of the sway the Federal Trade Commission holds in matters such as health system and hospital mergers.
Washington D.C. Member Bruce Sokler, Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust practice, is quoted in this Law360 article covering the AmEx anti-steering provisions case which the U.S. Supreme Court will take up. The article notes the unique role of the Supreme Court in the matter.
Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust section Bruce Sokler, along with Member Rob Kidwell and attorneys, Farrah Short Shawn Skolky collaborated on an article regarding the Washington state attorney general’s office suit against the expansion efforts of Franciscan Health System.  
Best Lawyers named 85 Mintz attorneys to its 2018 list of The Best Lawyers in America. In addition, Mintz attorneys Matthew J. Gardella and Samuel M. Tony Starr were named “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective practice areas.
Bruce Sokler, the Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust practice, is quoted in this Law360 article discussing the Supreme Court case involving American Express Co.’s merchant anti-steering rules.
The 2017 Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business guide ha recognized 49 Mintz attorneys as “Leaders in Their Fields.” Practice highlights include top rankings for banking and finance.
Eight Mintz attorneys have been named Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers for 2017 and four have been named Washington, D.C. Rising Stars. The list will be published in a special advertising supplement in The Washington Post Magazine and in a stand-alone magazine, Washington D.C. Super Lawyers Magazine.
Member and leader of the firm’s Antitrust practice Bruce Sokler is among those providing insight in this piece discussing strife between the Federal Trade Commission and a proposed hospital merger, to be known as Ballad Health.
JD Supra has recognized Mintz in its 2017 Reader’s Choice awards, highlighting the most widely read authors and articles over the past year. Eleven Mintz attorneys were named JD Supra Top Authors in four industries and Mintz was recognized as the Top Firm with readers in the Energy Industry.
Bruce Sokler, the Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust Practice, was quoted in a Managed Care Magazine article discussing how a court ruling to block a merger between two Pennsylvania health systems could lead to stronger resistance from and greater success for the FTC in future health care system mergers.
Bruce Sokler, the Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust Practice, is quoted in a Bloomberg BNA Antitrust & Trade Regulation Resource Center article on the ongoing antitrust case against Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University Health System.
Mintz attorneys represented Seventh Generation, Inc. in its recent sale to Unilever. Based in Vermont, Seventh Generation is a pioneer in corporate responsibility and sustainable product innovations, including plant-based detergents and household cleaners.
Bruce Sokler, the Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust Practice, is quoted in a Modern Healthcare article discussing the Federal Trade Commission’s win in its appeal to stall the Penn State Hershey merger with PinnacleHealth.  
Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust Practice Bruce Sokler is quoted in this Law360 article covering the difficulties the U.S. Department of Justice may face moving forward with its antitrust case against Carolinas HealthCare System.
Bruce Sokler, the Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust Practice, is quoted in this Bloomberg BNA article covering delays in a hospital merger resulting from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s court win.
Six Mintz Members will speak at the 2016 International Bar Association Conference. The Members are Robert I. Bodian, Richard R. Kelly, Heidi A. Lawson, Bruce D. Sokler, Stephen M. Weiner, and Laura Bange Stephens.
Best Lawyers named 73 Mintz attorneys to its 2017 list of The Best Lawyers in America. Mintz attorneys selected for inclusion in this year’s list span 44 practice areas. 
Mintz Members Bruce Sokler and Robert Kidwell, and Special Counsel Farrah Short, authored this Law360 column about the war being waged between businesses that accept payment cards and payment card fees and protective network rules.
Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust Practice Bruce Sokler is quoted in this FTC Watch article on the FTC's loss in their attempt to block two Chicago-area hospitals from merging. The federal judge found their “approach to defining geographic markets ‘flawed’.”  
Bruce Sokler, Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust Practice, is quoted in a Law360 story on the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust suit against Carolinas HealthCare System.
Firm’s National Healthcare Practice, NY Corporate/M&A and Litigation: General Commercial Among Newest Rankings
Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust Practice Bruce Sokler is quoted in this Law360 article on steps deal makers who enter business transactions can take to better brace themselves for antitrust review.
Bruce Sokler, Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust Practice, is quoted in The Street in a discussion of the Halliburton-Baker Hughes deal, which would involve the second and third largest companies in the oilfield services industry merging.
Mintz’s Antitrust Practice Chair Bruce Sokler is quoted in this Financial Times article discussing Halliburton’s plan to purchase Baker Hughes. The piece notes the Department of Justice hopes to block the deal through an antitrust lawsuit.
Chair of Mintz’s Antitrust Practice Bruce Sokler and Farrah Short, Antitrust Special Counsel, authored this Law360 column on a legal battle between two rodeo associations.
The 2015 Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business guide names 52 Mintz, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.  attorneys as “Leaders in Their Fields.”
Seven Mintz attorneys have been named Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers for 2015 and five have been named Washington, D.C. Rising Stars. The list will be published in a special advertising supplement in Washington Post Magazine and in a stand-alone Washington D.C. Super Lawyers Magazine.

Events

Speaker
May
17
2018

Antitrust in Healthcare

American Bar Association and American Health Lawyers Association

The Ritz-Carlton Arlington, VA

Speaker
Speaker