Yearbook publisher hit with $25 million dollar judgment for engaging in 'anticompetive practices'

TEXAS — A Sherman jury found Jostens, Inc., the yearbook publishing giant, liable for anticompetitive practices in May. Jostens was ordered to pay Taylor Publishing Co., a direct competitor, $25.5 million in damages and fees.

The award includes $8 million for attempting to monopolize, $500,000 for illegal price discrimination, and $4.25 million in compensatory and $7.25 million in punitive damages on other counts, plus attorneys1 fees.

The jury found that Jostens, in an attempt to monopolize the yearbook industry, pressured Taylor sales representatives stationed across the country into leaving their jobs in order to work for Jostens. The jury found also that Jostens had offered extremely low estimates to high schools and colleges a predatory pricing tactic designed to pull long-held contracts away from Taylor. According to Taylor1s filed complaint, Jostens1 actions did not make sense economically; the only explanation for such behavior would be that Jostens wanted to put Taylor out of business. The jury agreed with Taylor on the monopolization claims, but declined to find Jostens liable for interfering with contracts between Taylor and its customers.

Jostens, based in Minneapolis, is the No. 1 yearbook manufacturer in the nation, controlling roughly 50 percent of the yearbook manufacturing market share. Plaintiff Taylor Publishing Co., a unit of Insilco Corp. of Dublin, Ohio, is the No. 2 manufacturer, controlling roughly 20 percent of the market share.

Jostens denies that it engaged in predatory or anticompetitive conduct, and is planning to appeal the jury1s verdict.