The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion in the United National Maintenance vs. San Diego Convention Center appeal last month. Previously, a district court had determined that the San Diego Convention Center’s (SDC) decision to implement an exclusives policy for cleaning services was immune from antitrust scrutiny under the state action doctrine. For the appeal, the IAVM Foundation submitted an amicus brief that supported the district court’s reasoning, arguing that the legislation authorizing the SDC must be understood as carrying with it a delegation of authority for management to structure and manage the SDC’s internal operations, even if competition to perform those operations is displaced.
The Ninth Circuit agreed and affirmed the district court’s conclusions on this point. The appeals court applied reasoning that draws from IAVM Foundation’s brief, including the observation that legislation authorizing the SDC necessarily contemplated a broad delegation of managerial authority.
“This is an important and very favorable opinion for any public convention center or similar space that has (or is contemplating adopting) exclusives policies,” said Cortlin H. Lannin, an associate at Covington & Burling LLP. “Assuming those facilities operate pursuant to authorizing legislation that is similar in character to SDC’s authorizing legislation, this opinion suggests those exclusives policies are immune from antitrust review.”
This case was a landmark win for the venue management industry, said Jason Rittenberry, CFE, as it set the precedent for venues to be able to operate and manage their buildings as they see fit.
“As a Foundation, this is what we are about, having the resources on hand to fund something that makes a significant difference to the industry when an urgent issue arises,” said Rittenberry, the IAVM Foundation chair. “We are honored that we were able to step up quickly and support our members.”
Part of IAVM’s mission is to advocate for its members, said Vicki Hawarden, CMP, president and CEO of IAVM.
“We felt the issue facing San Diego was one that could have far reaching consequences for our entire industry,” Hawarden said. “Thanks to the support of the IAVM Foundation, our voices were heard, and we are pleased with the decision.”