Antitrust & Intellectual Property

Telescope Monopoly & Price-Fixing Class Action

Telescope Antitrust Class Action

Lieff Cabraser represents a class of consumers who have filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging that Synta and Ningbo Sunny conspired to fix prices and monopolize the consumer telescope market in the United States.

While there are a quarter million amateur astronomers in the U.S., most if not all amateur astronomers did not realize that the manufacturers and distributors of their telescopes were engaged in price fixing, market allocation, and other anticompetitive activity with the purpose and effect of monopolizing the consumer telescope manufacturing and distribution markets. As a result, purchasers of consumer telescopes have been illegally overcharged hundreds of millions of dollars for telescopes since at least 2005.

Synta and Sunny together manufacture over 80% of all consumer telescopes imported into the United States. As the complaint sets forth, however, instead of competing, Synta and Sunny agreed which products their companies will produce and what prices to charge for such products. They used their unlawful cooperation and dominance over telescope supply to enable their subsidiaries to take over the United States distribution market in violation of the antitrust laws.

Contact an Antitrust Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser

If you think you may have overpaid for your telescope as a result of the illegal anticompetitive conduct alleged in this lawsuit, we welcome the opportunity to talk to you about your case and potential recovery. Please use the form below to send us an email today.


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In-Home Health Care Labor Antitrust

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In-Home Health Care Employee Antitrust Investigation

Lieff Cabraser is investigating reports that companies providing in-home health care services illegally agreed not to solicit or hire each other’s home health care workers. These alleged no-poach agreements reportedly suppressed the wages of in-home health care workers, including nurses, physical therapists, and home health aides. Home healthcare companies that are involved in the in-home care industry include Kindred at Home, Amedisys, LHC Group, Encompass Home Health and Hospice, AccentCare, Brookdale Senior Living Solutions, Bayada, Trinity Health at Home, and Elara Caring and Interim Healthcare.

Reports have surfaced that an unnamed company has sought leniency from prosecution with the U.S. Department of Justice in its criminal investigation into anticompetitive conduct in the in-home health care services industry.

Talk to a Labor Antitrust Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser

Lieff Cabraser’s Labor Competition practice group leads the nation in representing workers asserting claims against employers for anticompetitive no-poach agreements. If you suspect your home health care employment opportunities or pay have been artificially suppressed by a no-poach or other illegal agreement, we urge you to contact us today for a free, no-obligation review of your potential case and recovery.


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COVID-19 and Illegal Anticompetitive Conduct in U.S. Labor Markets

employees

Although many individuals and businesses have demonstrated extraordinary compassion and flexibility in responding to COVID-19, the Department of Justice is warning that others may be using it as an opportunity to prey on American workers by subverting competition in labor markets, including by collusive wage fixing and worker mobility restrictions. Abusive and improper restrictions by companies and individuals involved in the hiring, recruiting, retention, or placement of workers like doctors, nurses, first responders, grocery story clerks, pharmacies, warehouses, other essential service providers, and medical travel and locum tenens temporary medical workers, risk civil and even criminal liability for their illegal acts.

Talk to a Labor Antitrust Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser

Lieff Cabraser is investigating this kind of improper and illegal conduct. If you suspect your employer is collaborating with other companies to reduce hours, wages, benefits, job mobility or employment opportunities, we urge you to contact a Labor Antitrust lawyer at Lieff Cabraser today. There is no cost or obligation for our review of your potential case, and the information you provide will be held in the strictest confidence.


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California Bail Bonds Antitrust Litigation

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Lieff Cabraser, together with Justice Catalyst, the National Consumer Law Center, Public Counsel, and Towards Justice, represent plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit alleging that the prices of bail bonds in California have been unlawfully inflated by a price-fixing conspiracy. The suit alleged that “sureties”—the companies that back the bonds sold by retail bond agents—have orchestrated a default price of 10% of the bond amount, and have then worked to eliminate discounting that would otherwise have occurred if the market operated competitively. This first-of-its-kind case challenges the alleged conspiracy among sureties and bail agents to inflate bail bond prices.

The defendants include surety companies and certain bail agents operating in California, including Seaview Insurance, American Surety, Allegheny Casualty, International Fidelity, and several others.

According to the Complaint, bail bonds are sold by thousands of bail agents. The non-refundable premiums they charge on the bonds are ultimately controlled by a much smaller group of sureties, who underwrite those bonds, much like insurers. The sureties, in concert with bail agents, have allegedly engaged in a long-running anticompetitive conspiracy to keep bail bond premiums higher than they would be if the California bail-bonds market functioned competitively.

The plaintiff class is defined in the Complaint as: “All persons who, between February 24, 2004 and present (the “Class Period”), paid for part or all of a commercial bail bond premium in connection with a California state court criminal proceeding. Specifically excluded from this Class are Defendants; the officers, directors or employees of any Defendant; any entity in which any Defendant has a controlling interest; any affiliate, legal representative, heir or assign of any Defendant and any person acting on their behalf; any person who acted as a bail agent during the Class Period; any judicial officer presiding over this action and the members of his/her immediate family and judicial staff; and any juror assigned to this action.”

This class action seeks damages for the hundreds of thousands of Californians who overpaid for unlawfully inflated bail bond premiums, and to prevent this unlawful overcharging to continue.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

Lieff Cabraser has successfully represented clients in hundreds of antitrust, consumer protection, and other class actions that have stopped corporate misconduct and collectively recovered billions of dollars in settlements.

If you purchased a bail bond in California from 2004 to the present, you may have a claim, and we welcome an opportunity to talk with you. You can contact an antitrust attorney at Lieff Cabraser by using the form below, or call us toll-free at 1-888-886-9368. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your case.


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Knorr and Wabtec Employee Illegal No-Poach Agreements

employees

On August 26, 2020, Judge Joy Flowers Conti of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted final approval to a settlement of the labor antitrust litigation filed by Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel on behalf of railway workers who alleged an illegal scheme by Knorr and Wabtec to improperly avoid hiring each other’s employees to artificially suppress compensation and competition in the related job market. Judge Conti found the settlement merited final approval, and approved the proposed Notice Administrator, the forms of Notice and the Notice Plan, conditionally certified a Settlement Class that satisfied all prerequisites for Rule 23(a) and (b) certification.

The Court also confirmed the appointment of Dean M. Harvey of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and Roberta D. Liebenberg of Fine, Kaplan and Black, R.P.C. as Co-Lead Counsel for the Settlement Class, which class it defined as:

All natural persons who worked in job families in which railway industry experience or skills were valuable and were employed in the United States by one or more of the following: (a) from January 1, 2009 through April 3, 2018, Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation or its subsidiaries, including Wabtec Railway Electronics, Inc., Railroad Controls, L.P., and Xorail Inc.; (b) from January 1, 2009 through April 3, 2018, Knorr Brake Company LLC or New York Air Brake LLC; or (c) from June 1, 2010 through April 3, 2018, Faiveley Transport, S.A. or Faiveley Transport North America Inc.

Earlier in the Case

In late 2018, Lieff Cabraser was selected as interim Co-Lead Counsel for plaintiffs in the consolidated “no-poach” employee antitrust litigation against rail equipment companies Knorr-Bremse and Wabtec, the world’s dominant rail equipment suppliers.

The complaint charged that the companies entered into unlawful agreements with one another not to compete for each other’s employees. Plaintiffs alleged that these agreements spanned several years, were monitored and enforced by Defendants’ senior executives, and achieved their desired goal of suppressing employee compensation and mobility below competitive levels.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

If you suspect your employer is engaging in illegal anticompetitive practices toward employees, please contact a lawyer at Lieff Cabraser today for a free, confidential review of your potential case.

Lieff Cabraser agrees to protect your name and all confidential information you submit against disclosure, publication or unauthorized use to the full extent under the law.


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No-Poach Agreements and Employee Antitrust Lawsuits

No-Poach Agreements Violate Fundamental Employee Rights

In 2011, Lieff Cabraser filed a groundbreaking class action against seven of the world’s largest tech companies, including Apple, Google, and Intel, alleging a conspiracy to suppress employee pay through “no-poach” agreements. In 2015, that case resolved for settlements totaling $435 million, the largest resolution in history of antitrust claims in an employment setting.

The Daily Journal described the case as the “most significant antitrust employment case in recent history,” adding that it “has been widely recognized as a legal and public policy breakthrough.”

Unfortunately, the practice of companies secretly agreeing to avoid competing among themselves for employees continues, and continues to artificially suppress employee pay and career mobility and advancement.

Lieff Cabraser continues to investigate and bring cases on behalf of employees whose compensation and mobility have been suppressed as a result of non-compete agreements between employers.

Duke/UNC “No-Poach” Employee Antitrust

In 2019, Lieff Cabraser won a $54.5 million settlement and the American Antitrust Institute’s 2019 award for “Outstanding Antitrust Litigation Achievement in Private Law Practice” for our successful representation of Danielle M. Seaman, M.D. and a class of over 5,000 academic doctors in a federal class action lawsuit against Duke University and the University of North Carolina Health Care System alleging that an agreement between the defendants not to compete for certain of each other’s employees (a “No-Hire” pact) illegally suppressed employee compensation. The settlement includes an unprecedented role for the United States Department of Justice to monitor and enforce extensive injunctive relief.

U.S. Department of Justice Announces Plans to Bring Criminal Actions Against No-Poach Violators

In October 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission issued Antitrust Guidance for Human Resource Professionals. In it, the DOJ and FTC announced that they intend to proceed criminally against naked wage-fixing or no-poaching agreements.

In 2018, numerous reports surfaced indicating that the DOJ is preparing to bring criminal cases against employers who enter into wage-fixing or no-poaching agreements.

Contact an Employee Rights Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser

The antitrust and employment lawyers at Lieff Cabraser work vigorously to defend employee rights and fight these abuses. If you or someone you know suspect they have had their opportunities or pay suppressed as a result of no-poach or other agreements, we urge you to contact Antitrust Practice Group partner Dean M. Harvey today for a free, confidential, and no-obligation review of your case. The information you provide will help us hold companies accountable for violations of antitrust and employee protection laws.


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Restasis Antitrust Litigation

Eyedrops

In Re: Restasis Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2819 (E.D.N.Y.).

Lieff Cabraser serves as interim co-lead counsel for indirect purchasers (i.e., third-party payors and consumers) of Restasis, a blockbuster drug used to treat dry-eye disease, in multidistrict litigation alleging a broad-based and ongoing anticompetitive scheme by pharmaceutical giant Allergan, Inc. (“Allergan”).

The goal of the alleged scheme was and is to maintain Allergan’s monopoly. Lieff Cabraser, together with co-counsel, filed the first two class actions on behalf of indirect purchasers.

The complaints allege that Allergan (1) fraudulently procured patents it knew were invalid, (2) caused those invalid patents to be listed in the FDA’s “Orange Book” as being applicable to Restasis, (3) used the improper Orange Book listings as grounds for filing baseless patent-infringement litigation, (4) abused the FDA’s “citizen petition” process, and (5) used a “sham” transfer of the invalid patents to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe to obtain tribal sovereign immunity and protect the patents from challenge.

This alleged scheme of government petitioning delayed competition from generic equivalents to Restasis that would have been just as safe and cheaper for consumers. The complaints assert claims under federal and state law, including the Sherman Act and the statutory and common law of numerous states.

In late 2018, plaintiffs successfully defeated defendants’ motion to dismiss the case. In May of 2020, the Court granted plaintiffs’ class certification motion and plaintiffs’ motion to exclude two of the defendants’ experts. The litigation is ongoing.

Mercedes Benz, BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen & Audi Antitrust Collusion Investigation

cars in crowded traffic

Lieff Cabraser is investigating reports from German media as well as The New York Times, Reuters, The Verge, and the Chicago Tribune, among other news outlets, that Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen as well as VW’s Audi and Porsche brands may have colluded for decades on vehicle technology. The stories reference internal manufacturer documents from VW and Daimler that appear to indicate the five manufacturers met with each other over 1,000 times in order to avoid competing with each other to improve the quality of their vehicles. The alleged cartel extended to non-diesel as well as diesel cars.

The broad conspiracy originally reported by Der Spiegel in Germany dating back as far as the 1990s included dozens of working committees that discussed how to limit competition on new technologies, including emissions systems. As a result, consumers basically received less car for their money than they otherwise would have. If true, this was a violation of the antitrust laws and car buyers are entitled to compensation.

Contact an Antitrust Lawyer at Lieff Cabraser About Your Rights

If you are a Mercedes Benz, BMW, VW or Audi owner or lessee and are interested in learning more about the case, please call Lieff Cabraser antitrust partner Brendan Glackin today at 1 800 541-7358 or use the contact form below.


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Barclays Bank “No-Poach” Antitrust Violations Investigation

employees

Lieff Cabraser is investigating complaints that multinational British bank giant Barclays may have violated U.S. antitrust laws by promising not to hire employees from U.S. bank JPMorgan. The complaints arose in the wake of a series of high-level executive departures from JPMorgan to Barclays starting in 2015.

The U.S. Department of Justice is also reportedly looking into the situation, and has made document requests to Barclays to see if it made agreements with JPMorgan to avoid hiring additional JPMorgan bankers. Such “no-poach” agreements, as they are called, violate U.S. antitrust law.

Current and former employees of JPMorgan or Barclays who would like to learn more about this investigation or report their experiences may contact us online by using the form below. Or you can contact a Lieff Cabraser antitrust attorney at (800) 541-7358. All information will be kept strictly confidential as provided by law.

Lieff Cabraser has a strong tradition of fighting for employee rights and to maintain competition in the marketplace. Competition in the labor market results in better salaries, enhanced career opportunities for employees, and better products for consumers.


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Generic Drugs Pricing Antitrust

Drug Bottles

In Re: Generic Pharmaceuticals Pricing Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2724 (E.D. Pa.).

Lieff Cabraser represents AFCSME DC 37, a municipal union health and welfare fund headquartered in New York City, and other health and welfare funds covering tens of thousands of individuals in litigation alleging that various drug companies conspired to keep producers of generic versions of numerous drugs from competing against each other.

Beginning in February 2015, Lieff Cabraser conducted an extensive investigation into dramatic price increases of certain generic drugs. Lieff Cabraser worked alongside economists and industry experts and interviewed industry participants to evaluate possible misconduct. In December of 2016, Lieff Cabraser, with co-counsel, filed the first case alleging price-fixing of levothyroxine, the primary treatment for hypothyroidism, among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world.

Lieff Cabraser also played a significant role in similar litigation over the drug propranolol in the Southern District of New York. On May 19, 2017, founding Lieff Cabraser partner Elizabeth Cabraser was named to the End-Payer Plaintiffs’ Plaintiff Steering Committee. The litigation is ongoing.

Lovenox / Enoxaparin (Enox)

Law defined

Nashville General v. Momenta Pharmaceuticals, et al., No. 3:15-cv-01100 (M.D. Tenn.)

Lieff Cabraser represents AFCSME DC 37, a municipal union health and welfare fund headquartered in New York City, and the Nashville General Hospital (the Hospital Authority of Metropolitan Government of Nashville) in a class-action antitrust case against defendants Momenta Pharmaceuticals and Sandoz, Inc., for their alleged monopolization of enoxaparin, the generic version of the anti-coagulant blood clotting drug Lovenox.

Lovenox, developed by Sanofi-Aventis, is a highly profitable drug with annual sales of more than $1 billion. The drug entered the market in 1995 and its patent was invalidated by the federal government in 2008, making generic production possible.

The complaint alleged that defendants colluded to secretly bring the official batch-release testing standard for generics within the ambit of their patent, delaying the entry of the second generic competitor—a never-before-tried theory of liability.

In 2019, the court certified a class of hospitals, third-party payors, and uninsured persons in 29 states and DC, appointing Lieff Cabraser sole lead counsel. In 2019, the parties agreed to a proposed settlement totaling $120 million, the second largest indirect-purchaser antitrust pharmaceutical settlement fund in history, after Cipro. On May 29, 2020, the Court granted final approval to the settlement.

Carolinas HealthCare System Antitrust

Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel represent consumer plaintiffs in litigation against Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) alleging the hospital giant is abusing its market power to prevent insurers from offering patients financial incentives to use lower cost or higher quality services offered by competitors.

How CHS’s Anticompetitive Practices Harm Group Plans and Insureds

The U.S. Department of Justice has investigated CHS’s practices and has filed a separate lawsuit against CHS/The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority to stop these violations of the antitrust laws. The suit similarly alleges that CHS’s illegal practices have allowed it to reduce competition and keep its reimbursement rates to insurers higher than they otherwise would be, causing patients to pay significantly more for insurance as a result.

Contact an Antitrust Lawyer

The case against CHS is proceeding.

If you live and work in or around Charlotte, North Carolina, or have CHS in your network, and have insurance through an employer-sponsored group plan, you may have paid too much for insurance and may have had fewer healthcare options than you should have. The Court has already denied a motion to dismiss by CHS. Now is an excellent time to consider joining the lawsuit.

There is no cost or obligation for our review of your potential antitrust lawsuit against CHS. The information you provide will be held in the strictest confidence and will help us hold CHS accountable to businesses like yours and their employees. Conduct like this contributes to the skyrocketing costs for medicine that concern us all.


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Patent Law

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Protecting the Rights of Innovators and Creators

Patent Law FAQ Patent Law FAQLieff Cabraser’s intellectual property lawyers represent inventors, startups, and businesses in intellectual property disputes against some of the world’s largest technology companies. Our IP attorneys handle all phases of IP lawsuits, from pre-litigation licensing strategy to appeals before the United States Courts of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Read answers to common IP and patent law questions.

Videos: Topics in Patent Law

What are the first steps to take in enforcing a patent?

Contact Lieff Cabraser

Please use the form below to contact an antitrust and intellectual property attorney at Lieff Cabraser regarding your patent law case.

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Aluminum Sulfate

pure clean water

Practice Area: Antitrust & Intellectual Property
Result: Over $105 million in settlements

In re: Liquid Aluminum Sulfate Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2687 (D.N.J.)

Lieff Cabraser served as a member of the Court-appointed Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in litigation involving liquid aluminum sulfate or “Alum.” Alum is a chemical used by municipalities and in industry for treating water, controlling algae in lakes and ponds, manufacturing paper and pulp, and other uses.

The direct purchaser plaintiffs alleged that the defendant manufacturers of Alum conspired to raise and fix the prices of Alum over a fourteen-year period, allocated customers and submitted artificially inflated bids, resulting in overcharges to municipalities and other buyers of Alum.

Over the course of the litigation, the direct purchaser plaintiffs reached settlements with each of the defendants, ultimately totaling over $105 million.

Duke/UNC “No-Poach” Agreement

employees

On May 27, 2020, Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel filed a complaint against Duke University challenging a conspiracy between Duke and the University of North Carolina whereby they two schools agreed not to compete against each other for faculty. The express purpose of this conspiracy was to suppress faculty pay.

The complaint alleges a secretive understanding dating at least back to 1974, and which was reaffirmed and policed by senior administrators of both institutions throughout the subsequent decades. For example, the complaint quotes the minutes of a 2001 Duke Dean’s Cabinet Meeting attended by senior administrators, including former President of Duke Nannerl Keohane, where the first item of business was “Agreements Between Duke/UNC Regarding Recruiting.” The minutes stated that “[t]here has been a casual understanding between Duke and UNC that no recruiting would take place between the two institutions.”

The express purpose of the no-poach agreement was to suppress the pay of Duke and UNC faculty. According to the complaint, in a 1995 memo, former Dean of Duke’s School of Business, Thomas Keller, asked President Keohane to ask UNC’s Chancellor to “abide by our inter-institutional agreements of not aggressively seeking faculty and staff from the other institution which basically has the end result of increasing salaries at both institutions….”

This case follows a prior case Lieff Cabraser successfully litigated with respect to Duke and UNC medical faculty. That case led to a certified class of all doctors of the two schools with an academic appointment, and a settlement of $54.5 million. In the course of discovery in that case, evidence came to light demonstrating that the no-poach conspiracy extended beyond the medical faculty to include all faculty of the two schools. The new case seeks to recover damages for the non-medical faculty who were not included in the first case.

Contact us

If you are a faculty or staff worker and you think you may have been affected by the conduct described above, we welcome the opportunity to provide you information on your legal rights. We will review your claim for free and with no obligation on your part.

Please contact us using the form below or call us toll-free at 1 800 541-7358 and ask to speak to attorney Dean Harvey.

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Contact Lens Price Fixing

photo of contact lenses

Issue: Illegal minimum resale price maintenance agreements

Lieff Cabraser represents consumers that purchased disposable contact lenses manufactured by Alcon Laboratories, Inc., Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., Bausch + Lomb, and Cooper Vision, Inc.

The complaint challenges under federal and state antitrust laws the use by contact lens manufacturers of minimum resale price maintenance agreements with independent eye care professionals (including optometrists and ophthalmologists) and wholesalers. These agreements, the complaint alleges, operate to raise retail prices and eliminate price competition and discounts on contact lenses, including from “big box” retail stores, discount buying clubs, and online retailers.

As a result, the consumers across America have paid artificially inflated prices for contact lenses.

CopyTele

Law defined

Result: $9 million settlement
Year: 2014

Lieff Cabraser successfully represented CopyTele, Inc. in a commercial dispute involving intellectual property. In 2011, CopyTele entered into an agreement with AU Optronics (“AUO”) under which both companies would jointly develop two groups of products incorporating CopyTele’s patented display technologies.

CopyTele charged that AUO never had any intention of jointly developing the CopyTele technologies, and instead used the agreements to fraudulently obtain and transfer licenses of CopyTele’s patented technologies. The case required the review of thousands of pages of documents in Chinese and in English culminating in a two week arbitration hearing. In December 2014, after the hearing, the parties resolved the matter, with CopyTele receiving $9 million.

Read further information about Lieff Cabraser’s commercial litigation and intellectual property practices.

Lasik

Law defined

Result: $12.5 million settlement
Year: 2001

In re Lasik/PRK Antitrust Litigation

Lieff Cabraser served as a member of Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in class actions brought on behalf of persons who underwent Lasik/PRK eye surgery. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants, the manufacturers of the laser system used for the laser vision correction surgery, manipulated fees charged to ophthalmologists and others who performed the surgery, and that the overcharges were passed onto consumers who paid for laser vision correction surgery.

In December 2001, the Court approved a $12.5 million settlement of the litigation.

Carpets

Carpets

Result: $50 million settlement
Year: 2001

In re Carpet Antitrust Litigation

Lieff Cabraser served as Class Counsel and a member of the trial team for a class of direct purchasers of twenty-ounce level loop polypropylene carpet.

Plaintiffs, distributors of polypropylene carpet, alleged that Defendants, seven manufacturers of polypropylene carpet, conspired to fix the prices of polypropylene carpet by agreeing to eliminate discounts and charge inflated prices on the carpet.

In 2001, the Court approved a $50 million settlement of the case.

Buspar

white pills

Result: $90 million settlement
Year: 2003

In re Buspirone Antitrust Litigation

In November 2003, Lieff Cabraser obtained a $90 million cash settlement for individual consumers, consumer organizations, and third party payers that purchased BuSpar, a drug prescribed to alleviate symptoms of anxiety.

Plaintiffs alleged that Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMS), Danbury Pharmacal, Inc., Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Watson Pharma, Inc. entered into an unlawful agreement in restraint of trade under which BMS paid a potential generic manufacturer of BuSpar to drop its challenge to BMS’ patent and refrain from entering the market.

Lieff Cabraser served as Plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Counsel.