October 23, 2020 – 1-800 Contacts $15.1 Million Antitrust Settlement Receives Final Approval
A $15.1 million settlement ending the proposed class action detailed on this page has received final approval from U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell, who signed off on the deal on October 21.
According to Law360, antitrust litigation involving 1-800 Contacts has yielded nearly $40 million in settlements with retailers who were alleged to have worked with the company to keep search engine users from finding cheaper contact lenses.
With the settlement, the four-year-old antitrust litigation against 1-800 Contacts draws to a close.
Another class action has been filed claiming 1-800 Contacts has violated federal antitrust statutes by engaging in a conspiracy to illegally subdue competition in the online contact lens retail market. Filed in California, the lawsuit alleges the defendant “is the instigator and enforcer” of numerous illegal arrangements between 1-800 Contacts and at least 14 “competitors” that divide up the market for online sales.
In short, the lawsuit claims these 15 co-conspirators control more than half of the direct-to-consumer market for the online sale of contact lenses, with 1-800 Contacts controlling 50 percent of that market by itself. This was allegedly accomplished by the defendant unlawfully manipulating the pool of programmatic advertisements that appear on popular search engines whenever consumers search for contact lenses. To settle multiple “sham lawsuits” filed by 1-800 Contacts, the defendant’s co-conspirators entered into heavily one-sided agreements that prevented them from bidding on auctioned advertisement space associated with a number of trademarked search terms and common variations, according to the suit.