FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
PUERTO RICO. [Hon. Salvador E. Casellas, U.S. District
Ruiz Comas, with whom RC Legal & Litigation Services,
P.S.C. was on brief, for appellant.
A. Madonia, with whom David M. Schiffman, Courtney A.
Hoffmann, Sidley Austin LLP, Rafael Escalera Rodriguez, and
Reichard & Escalera were on brief, for appellees.
Lynch, Selya and Lipez, Circuit Judges.
an antitrust case may turn on the definition of the relevant
market is a common-sense proposition. In this instance, the
summary judgment record disclosed a relevant market much
broader than the plaintiff claimed -- a market in which the
defendant lacked any semblance of market dominance. Finding
the plaintiff's antitrust claims wanting and its
companion claims equally impuissant, the district court
entered summary judgment in favor of the defendant. After
careful consideration, we affirm.
Flovac, Inc. (Flovac) and defendant-appellee Airvac, Inc.
(Airvac) both fabricate vacuum sewer systems.
Such systems are among the options available to transfer
sewage from various sources to wastewater treatment
facilities. There is money to be made in providing this
essential infrastructure to governmental units (especially
municipalities) and to developers.
of 2012, Flovac filed suit against Airvac and Airvac's
president, Mark Jones, in the United States District Court
for the District of Puerto Rico. Flovac sought relief under
both federal and Puerto Rico antitrust laws, see 15 U.S.C.
§ § 1-2; P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 10, § § 258,
260, alleging that Airvac's conduct in marketing its
vacuum sewer systems was anticompetitive. The specifics of
the challenged behavior are irrelevant here; for present
purposes, it suffices to say that the alleged anticompetitive
conduct occurred in the course of Airvac's solicitation
of municipalities interested in installing new sewer systems.
According to Flovac, Airvac lobbied those prospective
customers both to choose vacuum systems and to impose project
specifications favorable to its proprietary wares.
complaint also contained claims of tortious interference with
advantageous economic relations, brought against Airvac and
Jones under Puerto Rico law. See P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31,
§ 5141. These claims focused on a specific vacuum sewer
system installation in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico (the Ingenio
Project). Both Flovac and Airvac competed for that project;
and though the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority
(PRASA) solicited bids for a vacuum sewer system with
specifications modeled on Airvac's system, the general
contractor who won the bid chose Flovac to provide the vacuum
did not go quietly into this bleak night. The Ingenio Project
was funded in part through the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat.
115, which contained certain " Buy American"
provisions, mandating that funded projects use only materials
produced in the United States, see id. § 1605. Jones --
noting both the ARRA's mandate and the stipulation in the
project requirements that the component parts for the system
had to be purchased from a single manufacturer -- wrote to
PRASA in May of 2010 questioning the manufacturing process
for Flovac's system. PRASA halted Flovac's work
temporarily, but replied in June that it was satisfied that
Flovac's system complied with both the ARRA and the
applicable project requirements.
then raised the ARRA compliance issue in a letter to the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- the agency tasked
with overseeing the " Buy American" requirements
for the Ingenio Project. EPA investigated the complaint and
recommended that Flovac implement some modifications to its
manufacturing process. Flovac complied. It thereafter
completed the project, but not without protracted delays
(allegedly attributable to Airvac's meddling).
series of discovery squabbles (not relevant here), Airvac
moved for summary judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Flovac
opposed the motion. In a thoughtful rescript, the district
court granted summary judgment in Airvac's favor on all
claims. See Flovac, Inc. v. Airvac, Inc., 84
F.Supp.3d 95, 107 (D.P.R. 2015). This timely appeal followed.
standard of review is de novo, which requires us to take the
facts in the light most agreeable to the summary judgment
loser and to draw all reasonable inferences from those facts
in that party's favor. See Tropigas de P.R., Inc. v.