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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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The State of Wisconsin has a office that use to provide

Customer Question

The State of Wisconsin has a office that use to provide Hearing aids for low income residents, such as title 19 the State pays the clinic for the hearing aids.
This clinic with state employees are now selling hearing aids to the public. Putting other hearing aid offices in competition with the State of Wisconsin. We pay our taxes to pay our compatition. Is this legal?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 7 months ago.

Thank you for using JustAnswer.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. This is not illegal under state law. Basically this is a matter of "anticompetitive behavior" (aka antitrust) whereby the state is one of the parties engaging in the anticompetitive behavior. The only problem is that the Federal antritrust law (the Sherman act) doesn't include governmental entities in the regulated parties.

15 U.S. Code § 1 - Trusts, etc., in restraint of trade illegal; penalty

Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

15 U.S. Code § 2 - Monopolizing trade a felony; penalty

Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

15 U.S. Code § 7 - “Person” or “persons” defined

The word “person”, or “persons”, wherever used in sections 1 to 7 of this title shall be deemed to include corporations and associations existing under or authorized by the laws of either the United States, the laws of any of the Territories, the laws of any State, or the laws of any foreign country.

The barrier to applying the antitrust laws to state and local government conduct is the state-action immunity doctrine which basically means that federalism concerns have led the courts to exempt conduct by the state as a sovereign from antitrust scrutiny.

So in short, while this behavior might violate antitrust laws if it was done by a private company, as it's the state that is doing it it's not illegal. Unethical, immoral, and wrong, but not illegal.

I know this is probably not what you wanted to hear, but it is the law. I hope that clears things up anyway. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (3 or more stars). Look for the stars on your screen (★★★★★). Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 7 months ago.

Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 7 months ago.

Are you there? Please note that I am still here, awaiting your response or rating... (please note that rating closes this question out, so if there's nothing else, please rate it so that I can assist other customers that are waiting for answers to their questions)

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 7 months ago.

My apologies, but I must assist the other customers that are waiting. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (3 or more stars). Look for the stars on your screen (★★★★★).

If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

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Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 7 months ago.

I see that you have not responded in some time. Please note that this question is still open until you rate it. I believe that I have answered your question, but if you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (3 or more stars). Look for the stars on your screen (★★★★★). Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!