Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog

Small Businesses Defend Billion Dollar Price-Fixing Verdict

On behalf of the American Independent Business Alliance ("AMIBA"), Lieff Cabraser submitted an amicus brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on February 20, 2014, urging affirmance of a $1.2 billion verdict against the Dow Chemical Company for colluding with its competitors to fix the prices of urethane chemicals used to make foam products for automobiles, furniture, construction and packaging.

AMIBA, a national nonprofit, represents the interests of independent, locally-owned businesses and encourages entrepreneurship. Its affiliated organizations represent approximately 25,000 independent businesses covering nearly every business sector.

The AMIBA amicus brief explains that small and medium sized businesses, together with consumers, bear the brunt of price-fixing violations by paying unlawful overcharges. The verdict should be affirmed so the victims of Dow’s wrongful conduct can receive compensation, and to further the strong interest in deterring such anticompetitive restraints.

"It is simply impossible to overstate the importance of maintaining a level playing field to ensure open, fair, and vigorous competition in our twenty-first century economy," Lieff Cabraser partner Jonathan D. Selbin stated. "Dow’s conduct as found by the jury destroyed that balance, and there are simply no grounds for denying recovery to plaintiffs and the class of injured purchasers, including the independent businesses who comprise AMIBA’s membership."

In addition to discussing how affirmance will advance the compensation and deterrence goals of the antitrust laws, the amicus brief highlights the many flaws in the erroneous post-judgment challenges to class certification raised by Dow and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As the brief observes, the urethane case well illustrates how private antitrust enforcement through the class action mechanism can and should complement government enforcement in furtherance of free market policies long recognized by the Supreme Court.