Plaintiffs are a class of farms and farmers that own and use equipment manufactured by Deere & Company (Deere).  Plaintiffs allege that Deere’s has designed their machinery to require Deere software tools to diagnose and complete a repair, while also preventing farmers and independent repair shops (IROs) from accessing the necessary Deere software and giving access only to Deere dealerships. They believe this restrains trade in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The plaintiffs also allege that there is a conspiracy among dealerships and Deere to create this repair monopoly which is a violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act. Three counts were brought under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, and four counts were brought under Section 2.

After filing their answer, Deere brought a 12(c) motion arguing that plaintiffs lack standing under Article III due to lack of causal connection between the alleged injury and their conduct. They also claimed there was no antitrust standing because the plaintiffs bought Deere repair services from dealerships, not Deere directly, and did not bring suit against the dealerships. Deere also argued for dismissal claiming plaintiffs brought defective counts.

The district court found that plaintiffs had standing, and all counts were strong enough to survive the motion for dismissal. The plaintiffs plead that they had utilized Deere repair services from Deere dealerships, which was enough of a causal link between the alleged injury and Deere’s conduct for Article III standing.  The court found there was antitrust standing because plaintiffs are the direct purchasers of the repair services, not the dealerships, and a conspiracy that Deere was preventing IROs and others from obtaining repair software was plausibly alleged.  

On the issue of defective counts, the court found that plaintiffs have shown enough circumstantial evidence to show it is possible there is a “common scheme” among the dealerships and Deere to create an aftermarket repair monopoly. This is enough for the counts associated with Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act to survive at this stage of litigation.

In re: Deere & Co. Repair Serv. Antitrust Litig., No. 3:22-cv-50188, 2023 WL 8190256 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 27, 2023).