(CN) – A Connecticut mayor escaped an antitrust suit accusing him of demanding bribes from commercial contract bidders after the state appeals court dismissed the complaint.
After Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim awarded plaintiff Bridgeport Harbour Place I LLC development rights to a city waterfront property called Steel Point, he allegedly demanded payouts from the developer. When the plaintiff refused to comply, the mayor purportedly pressured Bridgeport Harbour through excessive delays and demands, prompting its three financial backers to withdraw from the project.
The court found no factual basis for antitrust injury, ruling that the developer failed to Connecticut Court of Appeals a negative impact on local competition or show price discrimination, which could serve as the factual basis for an antitrust violation.
The court found that other competitors were free to develop Steel Point or other city properties. Even if the plaintiff had proved that the building market was unfair, the ruling states, Bridgeport Harbour failed to link the mayor’s actions to weakened competition or name specific violations of the state’s antitrust act. A commercial bribery scheme alone does not constitute an antitrust injury eligible for treble damages, the court ruled.
The developer’s “conclusory allegations” of a “pay-to-play” scheme did not show how the mayor decreased competition or hurt the market, Judge McLachlan concluded.