NU Online News Service, March 19, 7:05 p.m. – A federal judge in New York says a group of life insurance companies might be violating antitrust laws if it claims to have the exclusive right to use a collection of study data.
The plaintiff in the case, Intellective Inc., a consulting firm, has sued a group of five life insurers and two consulting firms that have run the Intercompany Investment Performance Study, a U.S. life insurance investment performance survey, since 1993, according to court documents.
Intellective helped the group analyze the data from 1996 to 1999. The group then denied Intellective the right to use the data, after it replaced Intellective with another consulting firm.
Intellective’s suit accuses the defendants of violating federal and state antitrust laws by keeping it from conducting its own life insurance investment performance surveys.
The defendants asked the judge, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein, to dismiss the suit, arguing that Intellective has no case, in part because the working group represents a group of data customers, not suppliers, and in part because the working group is keeping Intellective from doing only one specific type of research.
Intellective has “alleged a market that is so narrow as to fall within the ?strange red-haired, bearded, one-eyed man-with-a-limp classification’ rejected by courts as a matter of law,” according to Hellerstein’s summary of the defendants’ argument.
Hellerstein dismissed the charges against the consulting firms, but he kept the antitrust allegations against the insurance companies.
“Intellective adequately states an antitrust injury,” Hellerstein writes in an opinion discussing his ruling. “Intellective alleges that it, and all others, are prevented from competing in the relevant market by the Working Group’s control of the data necessary to perform a competing study. The prevention of this type of marketwide competition is an ?injury of the type antitrust laws were designed to prevent.’”
Hellerstein expresses uncertainty how he should go about analyzing the insurance investment data market.