Contact Lens Companies Seek Summary Judgment in Lawsuit Over Minimum Pricing


JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—Three contact lens companies and a distributor, who are defendants in a class-action lawsuit over pricing, filed a motion seeking a summary judgment in the matter in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida here earlier this week. The defendants in the three-year old suit are the contact lens companies Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, and Johnson & Johnson Vision, and the distributor ABB Optical Group, according to the court documents. In their motion for summary judgment, the companies noted that the “plaintiffs have failed to establish any evidence that the manufacturer defendants conspired to introduce Unilateral Pricing Policies (UPP)” and, additionally, that the plaintiffs “cannot point to a single communication with the distributor ABB showing the manufacturers were using ABB as a ‘hub’ to coordinate a supposed conspiracy among them,” the court filing noted.

The plaintiffs in the suit are “individual consumers who purchased disposable contact lenses pursuant to a Unilateral Pricing Policy, or UPP, implemented by one of the manufacturer defendants,” according to the court filing. Defendants J&J Vision, Alcon and Bausch + Lomb dropped their UPP pricing programs in 2016-2017 for various reasons, as VMAIL reported.

In the original lawsuit, filed in early 2015 in California, the plaintiffs asserted that the contact lens companies “conspired with each other and with defendant ABB... as well as independent eyecare professionals (ECPs)” and the American Optometric Association (AOA) to “impose minimum resale prices” on certain contact lens lines by subjecting them to UPPs, thereby reducing or eliminating price competition on those products from “big-box” stores. The UPP pricing programs prevented certain retailers, including Costco and 1-800-Contacts, “from discounting those products,” the lawsuit noted.

The filing also noted that “after two years of fact and expert discovery, dozens of depositions and the production of over a million pages of documents and more than 50 depositions, there is no evidence of single communication among manufacturer defendants, or any other evidence, suggesting some coordinated effort to introduce UPPs.”

The court previously preliminarily approved a settlement between CooperVision, a defendant in the original suit, and the plaintiffs, according to this week’s court filing.