Matthew C. Blickensderfer
Matt helps clients solve their challenges in two principal areas: (1) commercial litigation, with a focus on antitrust litigation and counseling, and (2) appellate litigation. Matt is a member in the litigation department.
Antitrust Litigation and Counseling
Matt has handled a wide variety of antitrust litigation, including cases alleging price-fixing and other conspiracies, monopolization, tying, and exclusive dealing. His antitrust work includes cases brought by government enforcers and private plaintiffs, including class actions. He frequently consults with clients outside the litigation context on all aspects of state and federal antitrust law including price discrimination. He frequently advises clients on their relationships with competitors, their relationships with suppliers and customers, and pricing issues.
His antitrust work spans many industries, including sports, manufacturing, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, automobile-related businesses, and payment services.
Highlights of Matt's recent antitrust work include these matters:
- Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Marathon Petroleum Company LP (W.D. Ky.) – Matt represents a petroleum refiner in the defense of a parens patriae action brought by the Attorney General of Kentucky. The lawsuit alleges that Marathon restrained trade in and monopolized the market for reformulated gasoline in the Louisville and Northern Kentucky metropolitan areas.
- Hyland v. Homeservices of America, et al. (E.D. Ky.) - Matt currently represents a real estate brokerage firm accused of conspiring with other real estate brokers to fix the commissions on residential real estate in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The district court certified a class of more than 70,000 sellers of residential real estate for the period 2001-2005. In July of 2012, less than two weeks before trial was set to begin, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of our client. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.
- Midwest Agency Services et al. v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. et al. (E.D. Ky.) – Matt represented the defendants in the successful defense of tying and state law claims. The plaintiffs alleged that Chase Bank refused to purchase automobile loans made by dealers unless the loans included a gap product issued by a Chase affiliate, and that this amounted to illegal tying under the federal antitrust laws and violations of Kentucky insurance statutes. The district court dismissed all claims, accepting all of the arguments advanced on behalf of the defendants: (1) the plaintiffs failed to plead injury to overall competition and thus had not established antitrust injury, (2) the conduct alleged was not a tying arrangement at all, but rather the defendants’ legitimate choice as to what risks to accept, and (3) the conduct alleged did not violate the Kentucky insurance statutes.
- Kentucky Speedway LLC v. NASCAR (E.D. Ky.) - Matt represented NASCAR in the successful defense of a conspiracy and monopolization case brought by Kentucky Speedway in federal district court. The lawsuit alleged that NASCAR and various racetrack operators, including NASCAR’s sister company, had conspired to exclude Kentucky Speedway and that NASCAR had illegally monopolized stock car racing. The district judge granted summary judgment for the defense. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.
Matt’s commercial litigation practice involves the prosecution and defense of claims for breach of contract (including UCC Article 2 litigation), tortious interference, fraud, and disparagement. Much of his work in these areas has involved Article 2 litigation for manufacturers, especially those in the automotive sector.
- ClarkWestern Dietrich Building Systems, LLC v. Certified Steel Stud Association et alia (Butler County Ohio) - Matt was part of the trial team that secured the largest verdict (in the longest jury trial) in the history of Butler County, Ohio. ClarkDietrich sued several competitors and their trade association for disparagement, defamation, violations of the Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and civil conspiracy. Matt led the damages aspects of the trial, including examination of both sides’ experts and relevant fact witnesses. He also handled settlement discussions. During the two-and-one-half month trial, three of the four defendants settled. The jury awarded $49.5 million in damages against the remaining defendant. The Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.
Matt also represents clients in federal and state appellate courts. He served as a law clerk to the Honorable David A. Nelson, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was the editor-in-chief of the third edition of the Sixth Circuit Practice Manual (LexisNexis 2006) and the author of its chapters on appellate jurisdiction, stays pending appeal, and briefing requirements. He was also a co-author of Kentucky Appellate Practice (Thompson/West 2006) with his colleagues Sheryl Snyder and Griffin Terry Sumner.
Matt's appellate work includes these matters:
- State ex rel. Doner v. Zehringer, 139 Ohio St.3d 314, 2014-Ohio-2102, 11 N.E.3d 1152 (Ohio 2014) – Matt represented the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and its Director in this contempt proceeding involving underlying eminent domain actions that the Supreme Court of Ohio had previously ordered the Department to file. Before Frost Brown Todd’s representation began, the Supreme Court of Ohio had held the Department and its Director in contempt for delays in initiating the eminent domain actions. Subsequently, after Frost Brown Todd began representing the Department and its Director, the property owners filed a second contempt motion based on events in the underlying actions. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the property owners’ second contempt motion.
- Huffman v. Hilltop Companies, LLC, 747 F.3d 391 (6th Cir. 2014) – Matt represented Hilltop Companies in the successful appeal of a federal district court’s refusal to compel arbitration of cases brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The district court had denied a motion to compel arbitration despite the existence of arbitration clauses in the plaintiffs’ independent contractor agreements with Hilltop, because those agreements contained survival clauses that did not include the arbitration provision as a term that survived the expiration of the agreements. In a case of first impression at the federal appellate level, the Sixth Circuit reversed and compelled arbitration. The court of appeals held that the absence of the arbitration clause from the list of surviving provisions was insufficient to overcome the presumption that an agreement to arbitrate disputes survives the expiration of a contract.
- Lipker v. AK Steel Corporation, 698 F.3d 923 (6th Cir. 2012) – The plaintiff filed this ERISA benefits action against against AK Steel for alleged miscalculation of surviving spouse benefits under the company’s pension plan. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff. We secured a reversal in the Court of Appeals, which held that the company had correctly interpreted its plan and correctly calculated benefits. The decision effectively cut off a potential flood of other lawsuits and liabilities, including a simultaneously pending class action.
- Welsh Development Company v. Warren County Regional Planning Commission, 128 Ohio St.3d 471, 2011-Ohio-1604, 946 N.E.2d 215 (Ohio 2011) – The court of appeals had held that Welsh Development failed to perfect its administrative appeal based on its interpretation of the statutes governing appeals in Ohio state courts. The Ohio Supreme Court accepted our discretionary appeal to establish clear standards for Ohio administrative appeals. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that Welsh Development’s appeal had been properly filed, and it articulated clear standards for filing such appeals.
- Alliance Health Group LLC v. Bridging Health Options, LLC, 553 F.3d 397 (5th Cir. 2008) - This case of first impression in the Fifth Circuit involved an issue of interpretation of forum selection clauses on which three other circuits had split. The Fifth Circuit accepted our client's position that a clause requiring litigation "in" a particular county permitted litigation in federal court, and not just the state court for that county, so long as the federal courthouse was physically located in the county in question.
- Ignazio v. Clear Channel Communications, 113 Ohio St.3d 276, 865 N.E.2d 18 (Ohio 2007) – The court of appeals had held that Clear Channel’s employment arbitration agreement was unenforceable because of an objectionable provision. The Ohio Supreme Court accepted our discretionary appeal in order to set standards for severability of contract provisions. The Supreme Court held 6-1 in our client's favor that the unlawful provision of the arbitration agreement was severable and the remainder of the agreement enforceable.
- Scovill v. WSYX/ABC, 425 F.3d 1012 (6th Cir. 2005) – In this employment discrimination lawsuit, the Sixth Circuit accepted our client's arguments and reversed the district court’s severance of certain aspects of an arbitration agreement while affirming the district court’s findings that the dispute was arbitrable and the arbitration clause lawful.
Highlights & Recognitions
- The Best Lawyers in America® Cincinnati"Lawyer of the Year," Litigation - Antitrust, 2013 and 2018
- The Best Lawyers in America®, 2013 - 2018 (Litigation-Antitrust; Commercial Litigation)
- Super Lawyers®, 2018 (Appellate Litigation)
- Cincy Leading Lawyers, Antitrust and Appellate Litigation, 2006-2018
- AV® Pre-Eminent Rated, Martindale-Hubbell®
- Acritas Stars®
- Sixth Circuit Dismisses Misclassification Class Action
- U.S. Department of Justice Ramps Up Antitrust Enforcement
- Antitrust Developments: Legislative Changes on the Horizon?
- Whole Foods and its Wild Oats: Antitrust scrutiny of mergers and acquisitions doesn’t end when the deal closes
- NASCAR Wins Summary Judgment in Antitrust Case brought by Kentucky Speedway
- U.S. Supreme Court Gives Manufacturers Greater Leeway in Controlling Distributors’ Prices
- 34 Frost Brown Todd Attorneys Recognized by Ohio Super Lawyers® and 20 Recognized by Ohio Rising Stars® for 2018
- 161 Frost Brown Todd Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2018
- 168 Frost Brown Todd Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2017
- 175 Frost Brown Todd Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016
- 175 Frost Brown Todd Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2015
- 172 Frost Brown Todd Attorneys Recognized in 2014 Best Lawyers®
- Nine Frost Brown Todd Attorneys Recognized as Leading Lawyers in Cincinnati
- 17 Frost Brown Todd Attorneys Named 2013 “Lawyers of the Year”
- 167 Frost Brown Todd Attorneys Recognized in 2013 Best Lawyers®
Civic & Charitable Organizations
- Springer School and Center (primary school for children with learning disabilities), Trustee, 2009-2017; President, 2014-2017
Non-FBT Publications and Events
Editor-in-chief and contributing author: "Sixth Circuit Practice Manual" (LexisNexis 3d ed. 2006)
"Kentucky Appellate Practice" (Thompson/West 2006)
Snyder, Sumner and Blickensderfer