Antitrust & Intellectual Property

Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide

Result: $163.5 million settlement
Year: 2013

Haley Paint Co. v. E.I. Dupont De Nemours and Co. et al., No. 10-cv-00318-RDB (D. Md.)

Lieff Cabraser served as Co-Lead Counsel for direct purchasers of titanium dioxide in a nationwide class action lawsuit against Defendants E.I. Dupont De Nemours and Co., Huntsman International LLC, Kronos Worldwide Inc., and Cristal Global (fka Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, Inc.), alleging these corporations participated in a global cartel to fix the price of titanium dioxide.

Titanium dioxide, a dry chemical powder, is the world’s most widely used pigment for providing whiteness and brightness in paints, paper, plastics, and other products. Plaintiffs charged that defendants coordinated increases in the prices for titanium dioxide despite declining demand, decreasing raw material costs, and industry overcapacity.

Unlike some antitrust class actions, Plaintiffs proceeded without the benefit of any government investigation or proceeding.Plaintiffs overcame attacks on the pleadings, discovery obstacles, a rigorous class certification process that required two full rounds of briefing and expert analysis, and multiple summary judgment motions.

In August 2012, the Court certified the class.Plaintiffs prepared fully for trial and achieved a settlement with the final defendant on the last business day before trial. In December 2013, the Court approved a series of settlements with defendants totaling $163 million.

De Beers Diamonds

Diamonds

Result: $295 million settlement and historic injunction
Year: 2008

In one of the most significant appellate decisions this decade in the areas of antitrust and class action law, Lieff Cabraser attorneys and their colleagues prevailed before an en banc panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in reversing an appellate panel’s decision and affirming the district court’s order approving the settlement of the De Beers antitrust suits. Sullivan v. DB Investments, 667 F.3d 273 (3rd Cir. 2011) (en banc).

For sixty years, De Beers flaunted U.S. antitrust laws. In 1999, De Beers’ Chairman Nicholas Oppenheimer stated that De Beers “likes to think of itself as the world’s … longest-running monopoly. [We seek] to manage the diamond market, to control supply, to manage prices and to act collusively with our partners in the business.”

The hard-fought litigation spanned several years and countries. Despite the tremendous resources available to the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorney generals, it was only through the determination of plaintiffs’ counsel that De Beers was finally brought to justice and the rights of consumers were vindicated.

Lieff Cabraser served as Class Counsel for consumers who purchased diamonds from 1994 through March 31, 2006, in a class action lawsuit against the De Beers group of companies. Plaintiffs charged that De Beers conspired to monopolize the sale of rough diamonds. In May 2008, the District Court approved a $295 million settlement for purchasers of diamonds and diamond jewelry, including $130 million to consumers. The settlement also barred De Beers from continuing its illegal business practices and required De Beers to submit to the jurisdiction of the Court to enforce the settlement.

Lieff Cabraser antitrust attorneys played key roles in negotiating the settlement and defending it on appeal, including convincing the Third Circuit to review a panel’s decision striking down the settlements. The en banc panel reinstated the certification order, finding that the predominance standard was met by focusing on De Beers’ misconduct and the injury it caused each and every class member. The en banc panel’s decision provides a roadmap for certification of nationwide class action lawsuits involving antitrust and consumer claims.

TFT-LCD Antitrust Litigation

Computers

Result: $470 Million in settlements
Year: 2012

In re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1827 (N.D. Cal.).

Lieff Cabraser served as court-appointed Co-Lead Counsel for direct purchasers in litigation against the world’s leading manufacturers of Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Displays. TFT-LCDs are used in flat-panel televisions as well as computer monitors, laptop computers, mobile phones, personal digital assistants, and other devices.

Plaintiffs charged that defendants conspired to raise and fix the prices of TFT-LCD panels and certain products containing those panels for over a decade, resulting in overcharges to purchasers of those panels and products. In March 2010, the Court certified two nationwide classes of persons and entities that directly purchased TFT-LCDs from January 1, 1999 through December 31, 2006, one class of panel purchasers, and one class of buyers of laptop computers, computer monitors, and televisions that contained TFT-LCDs.

Over the course of the litigation, the classes reached settlements with all defendants except Toshiba. The case against Toshiba proceeded to trial. In July 2012, the jury found that Toshiba participated in the price-fixing conspiracy. The case was subsequently settled, bringing the total settlements in the litigation to over $470 million.

For his outstanding work in the precedent-setting litigation, California Lawyer recognized Richard M. Heimann with a 2013 California Lawyer of the Year award.

Video – LCD Antitrust Litigation

Wholesale Electricity

High Voltage electric substation with transformers

Result: $1.066 billion in settlements
Year: 2005

Lieff Cabraser served as co-lead counsel in the private class action litigation against Duke Energy Trading & Marketing Reliant Energy, and The Williams Companies for claims that the companies manipulated California’s wholesale electricity markets during the California energy crisis of 2000-2001.

Extending the landmark victories for California residential and business consumers of electricity, in September 2004, plaintiffs reached a $206 million settlement with Duke Energy Trading & Marketing, and in August 2005, plaintiffs reached a $460 million settlement with Reliant Energy, settling claims that the companies manipulated California’s wholesale electricity markets during the California energy crisis of 2000-01.

Lieff Cabraser earlier entered into a settlement for over $400 million with The Williams Companies.

Natural Gas Antitrust Litigation

Natural gas

Result: $1.25 billion settlement
Year: 2003, 2006, 2007

In 2003, the Court approved a landmark of $1.1 billion settlement in class action litigation against El Paso Natural Gas Co. for manipulating the market for natural gas pipeline transmission capacity into California. Lieff Cabraser served as Plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Counsel and Co-Liaison Counsel in the Natural Gas Antitrust Cases I-IV.

In June 2007, the Court granted final approval to a $67.39 million settlement of a series of class action lawsuits brought by California business and residential consumers of natural gas against a group of natural gas suppliers, Reliant Energy Services, Inc., Duke Energy Trading and Marketing LLC, CMS Energy Resources Management Company, and Aquila Merchant Services, Inc.

Plaintiffs charged defendants with manipulating the price of natural gas in California during the California energy crisis of 2000-2001 by a variety of means, including falsely reporting the prices and quantities of natural gas transactions to trade publications, which compiled daily and monthly natural gas price indices; prearranged wash trading; and, in the case of Reliant, “churning” on the Enron Online electronic trading platform, which was facilitated by a secret netting agreement between Reliant and Enron.

The 2007 settlement followed a settlement reach in 2006 for $92 million partial settlement with Coral Energy Resources, L.P.; Dynegy Inc. and affiliates; EnCana Corporation; WD Energy Services, Inc.; and The Williams Companies, Inc. and affiliates.

Compressor Price Fixing

Law defined

Issue: Price-fixing

Compressor Price-Fixing

The national law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is investigating a potential case involving the price fixing of refrigeration system compressors. Compressors are used in refrigerators, freezers, air-conditioners, and other products that generate cold air.

Appliance repair and distribution companies buy compressors from manufacturers. When a compressor breaks down it cannot be repaired, but instead must be fully replaced.

Government Investigations of Alleged Price Fixing In Sale of Compressors

Tecumseh Products Company, a manufacturer of compressors, announced it entered into an amnesty agreement concerning an antitrust investigation with the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ"). Earlier in the month, the DOJ confirmed its participation in an international investigation of alleged price fixing in the global market for refrigeration and freezer compressors. In a press report, Ana Paula Martinez of the Brazil Justice Ministry stated, "We believe [compressor manufacturers] had been exchanging privileged commercial information for more than 12 year[s]."

To date, a grand jury has issued subpoena to three companies: Tecumseh, Whirlpool Corporation and Danfoss A/S, a European manufacturer of compressors.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

If you are an appliance repair or distribution company or other company that purchases compressors directly from a compressor manufacturer, we are interested reviewing the facts of your case. Please use the form below to contact us. There is no charge or obligation for our review of the case.

We will review your claim without fee or obligation. 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.

Please note that completion of this form cannot contractually obligate plaintiffs’ attorneys to represent you. We can only serve as your attorney if you and we both agree, in writing, that we will serve as your counsel.

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Municipal Derivatives

Municipal bonds

Issue: Fraud and bid-rigging

Introduction: Use of Municipal Derivatives

Designing and constructing capital projects often takes several years, resulting in a gap between when the bond funds are received and when the funds are all spent. It serves the public interest for governments to gain interest on bond monies.

Municipal derivatives are investment vehicles that allow a municipal bond issuer to generate a higher rate of return from bond proceeds than would be obtained if the bond funds were placed in a traditional savings account. A Guaranteed Investment Contract is one type of municipal derivative product.

Government Investigations Into Municipal Derivatives

The United States Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Securities & Exchange Commission are conducting multi-year investigations into the municipal derivatives industry. As part of those investigations, Bank of America Corp. has announced that it received conditional acceptance into the Antitrust Division’s corporate amnesty program, admitting its participation in illegal practices. Bank of America later agreed to pay $137.5 million in restitution to federal and state agencies for its participation in the conspiracy. Four other financial institutions subsequently agreed to pay restitution, penalties, and disgorgement totaling approximately $608 million in connection with the municipal derivatives conspiracy.

On October 29, 2009, a federal grand jury charged CDR Financial Products Inc. and executives at the company with participating in fraud and bid-rigging conspiracies related to municipal derivatives.

In a nine-count indictment filed in a New York federal court, U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors allege that company executives secretly manipulated the bidding process by designating in advance who would be the winning bidder for certain investment agreements. The department also charged that CDR took kickbacks from bidders, asked certain bidders to submit intentionally losing bids, and provided co-conspirators with information on the bids of competitors. The company ultimately pled guilty to various criminal charges. To date, nineteen people have pled guilty or been convicted of criminal charges arising out of the municipal derivatives investigation.

California municipalities file lawsuit

On April 23, 2008, the City of Oakland filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against national financial firms including AIG Financial Products, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wachovia Bank.

The County of Alameda, City of Fresno, and Fresno County Financing Authority have also filed cases alleging anti-competitive conduct in the sale of municipal derivatives. Lieff Cabraser serves as co-counsel to these municipalities in their cases. Click here to read their joint complaint. The complaint charges that defendants conspired to give cities, counties, school districts, and other governmental agencies artificially low bids for guaranteed investment contracts, swaps, and other municipal derivatives products, which are used by public entities use to earn interest on bond proceeds.

The complaint also charges that defendants met secretly to discuss prices, customers, and markets of municipal derivatives sold in the U.S. and elsewhere; intentionally created the false appearance of competition by engaging in sham auctions in which the results were pre-determined or agreed not to bid on contracts; and covertly shared their unjust profits with losing bidders to maintain the conspiracy.

Case Status

Lieff Cabraser has aggressively advanced its clients’ litigation since filing.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred all related cases to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and assigned them to the Honorable Victor Marrero. Read Judge Marrero’s case management order.

On April 26, 2010, Judge Marrero denied defendants’ motions to dismiss Lieff Cabraser’s clients’ cases. Read the Court’s order. Most of the Defendants in this case settled in 2015. Further prosecution claims continue with others.

Contact Plaintiffs’ Counsel

Please feel free to use the form below to contact an attorney at Lieff Cabraser concerning this litigation. We welcome inquiries from public entities nationwide. Across the country, cities, counties, school districts and other public entities have been overcharged in the tens of millions of dollars, if not more.

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LIBOR Rate Manipulation

Stock market data display at outdoor.

Issue: Manipulation of LIBOR rates

Lieff Cabraser serves as counsel for The Charles Schwab Corporation (“Charles Schwab”), its affiliates Charles Schwab Bank, N.A., and Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., which manages the investments of the Charles Schwab Bank, N.A. (collectively “Schwab”), several series of The Charles Schwab Family of Funds, Schwab Investments, and Charles Schwab Worldwide Funds plc (“Schwab Fund Series”), as well as the Bay Area Toll Authority (“BATA”), in individual lawsuits against Bank of America Corporation, Credit Suisse Group AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citibank, Inc., and additional banks for allegedly manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”).

The complaints allege that beginning in 2007, the defendants conspired to understate their true costs of borrowing, causing the calculation of LIBOR to be set artificially low. As a result, Schwab, the Schwab Fund Series, and BATA received less than their rightful rates of return on their LIBOR-based investments. The complaints assert claims under federal and state law, including the Sherman Act and the statutory and common law of California.

The actions were transferred to the Southern District of New York for consolidated or coordinated proceedings with the LIBOR multidistrict litigation pending there. The parties in the cases brought by Schwab, the Schwab Funds, and BATA have fully briefed defendants’ motions to dismiss and are awaiting the court’s ruling. The MDL is proceeding.

High Tech Employees Class Action Lawsuit

Abstract program code

Result: $435 million settlement
Year: 2015

Latest Developments in the High-Tech Antitrust Class Action Case

On September 2, 2015, the Court approved a $415 million settlement with Apple, Inc., Google, Inc., Intel Corporation, and Adobe Systems, Inc. The combined settlements in this landmark litigation constitute the largest resolution in history of antitrust claims in the employment setting, on either an aggregate or per-class-member basis.

The Court’s settlement approval order became final on October 5, 2015. The Court-appointed settlement administrator (Gilardi & Co., LLC) is preparing to allocate and distribute the settlement to the over 64,000 members of the Class. The settlement administrator is conducting final calculations and audits and expects to distribute the settlement to class members by the end of December 2015. The settlement administrator originally announced that it would complete this process by the end of November 2015 and apologizes for the delay on its end. It is making every effort to distribute the funds to class members as quickly and accurately as possible.

Questions regarding the administration of the settlement should be directed to Gilardi & Co. LLC, the Court-appointed settlement administrator, at 1 888-285-0335 or info@hightechemployeelawsuit.com. You can learn more about the settlement, including answers to frequently asked questions, at hightechemployeelawsuit.com.

Earlier, on May 16, 2014, the Court granted final approval to settlements valued at $20 million that had been reached in 2013 with Intuit Inc., Lucasfilm Ltd., and Pixar.

Class Certification and Class Definition

On October 24, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy H. Koh granted plaintiffs’ motion for certification in a class action charging that Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, and other large tech companies conspired from approximately 2005 to 2009 to suppress the pay of technical, creative, and other salaried employees, including by agreeing not to actively recruit each other’s employees.

By certifying the case as a class action, the individual plaintiffs that filed the lawsuit can represent all class members in claims that Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, and the other tech company defendants violated federal antitrust laws.

The Court certified the following class of approximately 64,600 persons, known as the Technical Class:

All natural persons who work in the technical, creative, and/or research and development fields that are employed on a salaried basis in the United States by one or more of the following: (a) Apple from March 2005 through December 2009; (b) Adobe from May 2005 through December 2009; (c) Google from March 2005 through December 2009; (d) Intel from March 2005 through December 2009; (e) Intuit from June 2007 through December 2009; (f) Lucasfilm from January 2005 through December 2009; or (g) Pixar from January 2005 through December 2009. Excluded from the Class are: retail employees from the class period; corporate officers, members of the boards of directors, and senior executives of all Defendants.

The job titles of persons in the Technical Class include: (1) Software Engineers, (2) Hardware Engineers and Component Designers, (3) Application Developers, (4) Programmers, (5) Product Developers, (6) User Interface or User Experience Designers, (7) Quality Analysts, (8) Research and Development, (9) Animators, Digital Artists, Creative Directors and Technical Editors, (10) Graphic Designers and Graphic Artists, (11) Web Developers, (12) IT Professionals, (13) Systems Engineers and Administrators, and (14) employees classified as technical professionals by their employers.

Partial Settlements Reached

In July 2013, Lucasfilm and Pixar together agreed to pay $9 million, and Intuit agreed to pay $11 million, to settle the respective claims against their companies. Approximately 8% of the class worked for one of these three companies.

On May 16, 2014, the Court approved the settlements with LucasFilm, Pixar, and Intuit.

Background: Importance of Competition for High Tech Employees

Competition in the labor market results in better salaries, enhanced career opportunities for employees, and better products for consumers. Silicon Valley firms and other high-tech companies owe their tremendous successes to the sacrifices and hard work of their employees, and must take responsibility for their misconduct.One of the principal means by which high-tech companies recruit employees is to solicit them directly from other companies in a process referred to as “cold calling.”

Factual Allegations: No Cold Calling, No Recruiting, and Limitations on Salary Offers

The consolidated complaint seeks lost compensation and treble damages for the alleged anti-competitive employment practices of Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel Corporation, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar. The complaint alleges the defendants conspired and formed agreements to (1) not recruit each other’s employees; (2) provide notification when making an offer to another’s employee (without the knowledge or consent of that employee); and (3) cap pay packages offered to prospective employees at the initial offer.

Starting with Lucasfilm and Pixar, and continuing until at least 2009 with all defendants, the companies entered into no solicitation, no cold-calling, no hiring, no poaching, and other anticompetitive agreements, with the intent to reduce employee compensation and mobility. As additional companies joined the alleged conspiracy, competition among participating companies for labor decreased. Compensation of defendants’ employees was less than what would have been paid in a properly functioning labor market where employers compete for workers.

The class action followed an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. After that investigation was made public, defendants agreed to end the anticompetitive agreements. However, no compensation was provided to employees of defendants. The class action seeks lost pay for the employees who were targeted by defendants’ alleged conspiracy.

Earlier Case Procedural History

On May 4, 2011, a former software engineer at Lucasfilm filed a class action lawsuit charging Adobe Systems Inc., Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corporation, Intuit Inc., Lucasfilm Ltd., and Pixar with violations of antitrust laws by conspiring to fix and restrict the pay of their employees and entering into “no solicitation” agreements with each other. Similar complaints were later filed by other employees, and the cases were consolidated before federal Judge Lucy H. Koh under the caption In re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 11-CV-2509-LHK. In 2012, Judge Koh denied in substantial part the defendants’ joint motion to dismiss the case.

On October 24, 2013, as summarized above, the Court granted plaintiffs’ motion to certify the Class. On October 25, 2013, the San Jose Mercury News published an in-depth article on Judge Koh’s order. In the article, Lieff Cabraser attorney Kelly Dermody noted that the order sends an important message “that people need to pay more attention to employee rights and fairness in the workplace.” Other media outlets that reported on the Court’s order included Bloomberg/Businessweek, the San Francisco Chronicle, CNET, and the Verge.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

Current and former employees of Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, and other high-tech companies who wish to learn more about this lawsuit or to report their experiences may contact us online by using the form below. Or you may contact a Lieff Cabraser attorney at (415) 956-1000. All information will be kept strictly confidential as provided under law.

We will review your case without charge or obligation. 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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Rechargeable Lithium Batteries

Rechargeable batteries

Issue: Global price-fixing conspiracy

Lieff Cabraser serves as Co-Lead Indirect Purchaser Counsel representing consumers in a class action filed against LG, GS Yuasa, NEC, Sony, Sanyo, Panasonic, Hitachi, LG Chem, Samsung, Toshiba, and Sanyo for allegedly conspiring to fix and raise the prices of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in violation of U.S. antitrust law from 2002 to 2011.

We welcome inquiries from consumers who wish to learn more about the lawsuit and to submit their purchase history of devices and products containing rechargeable batteries. We will review all claims free of charge. Please complete the contact form below.

Did you buy a laptop, cordless power tool, camcorder, or other similar item since 2000? You could get money from a $44.95 million lithium-ion battery antitrust settlement. Click here to submit your claim online.

Battery price chart

These batteries provide power for ubiquitous consumer electronic products, including cameras, notebook computers, mobile telephones, smartphones, personal digital assistants, tablet computers, and handheld game consoles.

Lieff Cabraser and its fellow co-lead counsel have recovered a combined $113.4 million in settlements from the cartelists. Indirect Purchasers have moved for class certification, which is currently pending before the court.

Factual Allegations in Li-Ion Batteries Case

As alleged in the complaint, the Li-ion battery industry has traditionally been controlled by a few, large Japanese producers. In the late 1990s, however, manufacturers from South Korea, LG Chem and Samsung, entered the market. Prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries began to drop sharply, by nearly 50% from 2000 to 2002, even as demand for these batteries was surging.

Sony, Panasonic, and Hitachi sought to stem the rapid decline in Li-Ion rechargeable battery prices and their rapid loss of market share due to the intense competition from LG Chem and Samsung. The complaint charges that at the end of 2001 or beginning of 2002, all of these companies entered into an illegal conspiracy to stabilize and raise prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries.

The anti-competitive pact was effective in stopping the steep decline in Li-Ion rechargeable batteries. Prices immediately stabilized after nearly a two-year period of rapid price decreases.

Li-Ion rechargeable Batteries prices often rose or remained stable, contrary to the expected effects of increased competition, decreasing costs, and the expected downward trend in prices characteristic of all technology products. Only the worldwide economic crisis in the late 2000s and corresponding drop in demand for consumer electronics caused a further decline in prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries.

The defendants collectively controlled approximately two-thirds or more of the worldwide market for Li-Ion Rechargeable Batteries throughout the Class Period, and over 80 percent of the market in the early part of this period. In 2011, sales revenue in the worldwide Li-Ion rechargeable battery market was approximately $14 billion.

The complaint alleges that as a direct result of the defendants’ alleged anticompetitive and unlawful conduct, consumers across America paid artificially inflated prices for Li-Ion rechargeable batteries.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

Federal and state antitrust laws are designed to protect the economy and to promote competition among businesses by prohibiting price-fixing and other forms of anticompetitive conduct.

Individuals, businesses, public agencies and other entities that have purchased products containing lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, such as cell phones, laptops, notebooks, digital music players, digital cameras and camcorders, and cordless power tools, are welcome to use the form below to contact a Lieff Cabraser attorney for further information on the litigation. We will review your claim for free and without any obligation.

We are interested in hearing about your experiences with these batteries, and 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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Air Ticket Price Collusion

Abstract image compliance

Allegation: Collusion in ticket pricing

Major U.S. Airlines in Litigation For Ticket Price-Fixing Conspiracy

Following a Justice Department into consistently high airline ticket prices despite the fact that oil and jet fuel prices plummeted 40% in recent years, multiple lawsuits were filed accusing the major U.S. airlines of acting as a price-fixing cartel in violation of both federal and state antitrust laws. These lawsuits have been grouped together by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.

In consolidating the cases, the JPML determined that all of the actions share factual questions arising out of allegations of a conspiracy by the airlines to fix prices for domestic tickets by keeping flight capacity artificially low. The airlines have a collective market share of approximately 80 percent, according to court documents.

Elizabeth Cabraser Named to Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee

In February 2016, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly appointed Elizabeth Cabraser to the three-member Executive Committee overseeing the airline price-fixing antitrust litigation.

The litigation follows the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into the airline industry seeking to ferret out possible illegal conduct, including concerns that the major U.S. airlines conspire to limit seat availability which drives up airfares on existing seats. The Justice Department sent “civil investigative demand” letters — which are similar to subpoenas — to American, United, Delta, and Southwest Airlines.

Keeping The Airlines Honest Requires Consumers To Take Action

Government antitrust prosecutions can result in the levying of fines and penalties against corporations that commit misconduct. However, the consumers who were forced to pay higher prices or lost income due to the price fixing conspiracy do not receive any share of the government fines.

This is one reason why the enforcement of antitrust laws by individual consumers through class action lawsuits is so important. Class action lawsuits enable a group of consumers to represent all consumers affected by the same price conspiracy and recover damages from large, powerful corporations.

Air Cargo Price Fixing

Loading an airplane with airfreight at an airport

Issue: Price-fixing cartel

On February 14, 2006, European Union antitrust investigators raided the offices of British Airways Plc, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Air France-KLM Group and several competitors in a probe with the U.S. Justice Department of price fixing in the air cargo market. In addition, there were simultaneous raids in the United States and Asia and elsewhere in Europe.

Private antitrust lawsuits on behalf of airfreight customers, both individuals and businesses, have been filed alleging a global conspiracy to fix prices for fuel, security and insurance surcharges in international air cargo shipping.

Allegations Raised in Air Cargo Antitrust Lawsuits

Plaintiffs allege that the major cargo carriers have illegally fixed surcharges under the guise of (1) rising fuel costs beginning in 2000; (2) additional security costs as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; and (3) rises in war-risk insurance premiums as a result of the Iraq war in 2003.

Plaintiffs charge that air freight carriers raised their surcharges in concert with one another through the secret exchange of information and public announcements, and that the surcharges have continued despite changes in economic and political conditions that were the purported, original justifications for the surcharges.

Defendants Named in Litigation

The Defendants include ACE Aviation Holdings, Inc., Air Canada, AC Cargo LP, Air France ADS, Air France-KLM Group ADS, Air France Cargo ADS, Air France-KLM Cargo ADS, Asian Airlines, British Airways, Cargolux Airlines International S.A., Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Lufthansa Cargo, Japan Airlines International Company LTD, Korean Air Company, Ltd., Lan Airlines S.A., Nippon Cargo Airlines Co., Ltd., Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc., Polar Air Cargo S.A., SAS AB, dba SAS Group, SAS Cargo Group A/S, Singapore Airlines Limited, Singapore Airlines Cargo Pte Ltd, Swiss International Air Lines Ltd., UAL Corporation, United Airlines Inc., United Airlines Cargo Inc., Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited, and the International Air Transport Association.

Contact Lieff Cabraser

If you or your business has shipped items by international air cargo since 2000 and you would like to learn more about this litigation, please use the form below to contact a Lieff Cabraser antitrust attorney. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your claim.

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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Cipro Cases I and II

Law defined

Issue: Exclusionary agreements not to compete

Lieff Cabraser represents California consumers and third party payors in a class action lawsuit filed in California state court charging that Bayer Corporation, Barr Laboratories, and other generic prescription drug manufacturers conspired to restrain competition in the sale of Bayer’s blockbuster antibiotic drug Ciprofloxacin, sold as Cipro. Between 1997 and 2003, Bayer paid its would-be generic drug competitors nearly $400 million to refrain from selling more affordable versions of Cipro.  As a result, consumers were forced to pay inflated prices for the drug — frequently prescribed to treat urinary tract, prostate, abdominal, and other infections.

The Trial Court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment, which the Appellate Court affirmed in October 2011. Plaintiffs sought review before the California Supreme Court and were successful. Following briefing, the case was stayed pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in FTC v. Actavis. After the U.S. Supreme Court in Actavis overturned the Appellate Court’s ruling that pay-for-delay deals in the pharmaceutical industry are generally legal, plaintiffs and Bayer entered into settlement negotiations. In November 2013, the Trial Court approved a $74 million settlement with Bayer.

On May 7, 2015, the California Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment to Defendants and resoundingly endorsed the rights of consumers to challenge pharmaceutical pay-for-delay settlements under California competition law. The Court held that “[p]arties illegally restrain trade when they privately agree to substitute consensual monopoly in place of potential competition.”

Additional settlements were reached with the remaining defendants, bringing total settlements to $399 million (exceeding plaintiffs’ damages estimate by approximately $68 million), a result the Trial Court described as “extraordinary.” The Trial Court granted final approval on April 21, 2017, adding that it was “not aware of any case” that “has taken roughly 17 years,” where, net of fees, end-payor “claimants will get basically 100 cents on the dollar[.]”

Some objectors are appealing the settlements. Objectors and their counsel objected to part of the settlement notice and to the attorneys’ fees. As of early 2018, the appeals are slowly progressing.

For their above-noted work on the Cipro matter, Lieff Cabraser attorneys Eric B. Fastiff, Brendan P. Glackin, and Dean M. Harvey were recognized by California Lawyer and the Daily Journal with the 2016 California Lawyer of the Year Award.

Further information on the settlement and distribution of funds can be found at www.ciprosettlement.com.

Capacitor Price Fixing

Capacitors

Issue: Global price-fixing conspiracy

With co-counsel, Lieff Cabraser represents consumers and businesses that purchased capacitors in an antitrust class action lawsuit filed against world’s largest manufacturers of capacitors. The complaint charges that the defendants conspired to unlawfully fix and raise the prices in the U.S. for electrolytic and film capacitors.

Lieff Cabraser has played a central role in discovery efforts, and assisted in opposing Defendants’ motions to dismiss and in opposing Defendants’ motions for summary judgment. The case is currently still in fact discovery.

The defendants include Panasonic Corp., Elna Co. Ltd., Hatachi Chemical Co., Ltd., Nistuko Electronics Corp., NEC Tokin Corp., SANYO Electric Co., Ltd., Matsuo Electric Co., Nippon Chemi-con Corp., Nichicon Corp., Rubycon Corp., Taitsu Corp., and Toshin Kogyo Co., Ltd.Capacitors are one of the most common electronic components in the world today. They store an electrical charge, and then release that charge later, much like a small rechargeable battery. Trillions of capacitors are made each year and are commonly used in a vast array of electronic devices and machines across multiple industries. Three basic types of capacitors exist: ceramic, electrolytic, and film, the latter two of which are the subject of the class action lawsuit.

Capacitors