Two new opinions: assignment of antitrust claims and the border-search exception

Walgreen Co. v. Johnson & Johnson—civil / contract—reversal—Jordan

A contract clause that forbids assignment of “rights or obligations under” the contract does not bar assignment of antitrust claims because antitrust claims arise by statute, not “under” the contract. the Third Circuit held today. The question arose in a suit brought by two retail pharmacies against a pharmaceutical company, asserting antitrust claims assigned to the pharmacies by the wholesalers who bought the drugs from the pharmaceutical companies. The Third Circuit rejected the pharmaceutical companies’ argument that, under New Jersey law, statutory claims engendered by a contract arise under it.

Joining Jordan were Scirica and Rendell. Arguing counsel were Scott Perwin of Florida for the pharmacies and William Cavanaugh Jr. of Patterson Belknap for the pharmaceutical companies.


U.S. v. Baxter—criminal—reversal—Smith

A man mailed a package from South Carolina to an address in the Virgin Islands. A border patrol drug-sniffing dog alerted to the package because it contained clothing that “smelled strongly of marijuana.” When border patrol opened it, they also found ammunition and gun parts inside, and the man was charged with illegal firearms transportation.

The district court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress under the Fourth Amendment, but the government appealed and today the Third Circuit reversed, holding that the search was permissible under the border-search exception even though the “border” here was between a U.S. state and a U.S. territory. The court rejected the district court’s view that a prior circuit case which had applied the exception to packages leaving the Virgin Islands didn’t apply to packages entering too.

Joining Smith were McKee and Shwartz. Arguing counsel were John Pellettieri for the government and Joseph DiRuzzo III of Florida for the defedant.