Florida v. General Chemical Corp. No. 2:17-00384 (D.N.J. Jan. 19, 2017)
Plaintiff state filed action in federal court alleging market allocation and price-fixing among manufacturers of the chemical liquid aluminum sulfate, which is a coagulant used to remove impurities and other substances from water. It is used primarily by municipalities in wastewater treatment. There are high barriers to entry and substitution is difficult. There have been several USDOJ indictments in the industry. The complaint alleged that the defendants conspired to circumvent competitive bidding and independent pricing and to raise liquid aluminum sulfate prices by submitting artificially inflated bids in Florida from 1997 through at least February 2012. The state alleged that fraudulent concealment of the conspiracy tolled the statute of limitations.
Connecticut et al. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals et al. Civ. Action No. (D.Conn. Dec. 15, 2016)
Twenty states filed a federal lawsuit against six generic drug manufacturers, alleging that they entered into long-running and well coordinated illegal conspiracies in order to unreasonably restrain trade, artificially inflate and manipulate prices and reduce competition in the United States for two drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic, and glyburide, an oral diabetes medication. The lawsuit was filed under seal to avoid compromising a continuing investigation. In the complaint, the states allege that the misconduct was conceived and carried out by senior drug company executives and their marketing and sales executives. The complaint further alleges that the defendants routinely coordinated their schemes through direct interaction with their competitors at industry trade shows, customer conferences and other events, as well as through direct email, phone and text message communications. The states further allege that the drug companies knew that their conduct was illegal and made efforts to avoid communicating with each other in writing or, in some instances, to delete written communications after becoming aware of the investigation. The states allege the anticompetitive conduct, including price-fixing and price maintenance, market allocation and other anticompetitive acts, caused significant, harmful and continuing effects in the country’s healthcare system. The states sought an injunction to prevent the companies from engaging in illegal, anticompetitive behavior and also sought equitable relief, including disgorgement. An additional 20 states joined the complaint in March 2017.
Commonwealth of Kentucky ex rel. Beshear v. Marathon Petroleum Co. LP, No. 3:15-cv-00354 (May 12, 2015)
State filed suit against Marathon, alleging Marathon engaged in anti-competitive practices that lead to higher gas prices for Kentucky consumers in violation of state and federal antitrust laws. State alleged that Marathon abused its monopoly position after its merger with Ashland Oil in 1998. The state alleged, among other actions, that Marathon requires some retailers, thought its supply agreements, to purchase 100 percent of their RFG from Marathon, with penalties if the retailers fail to do so. The agreements also prohibit unbranded retailers from challenging Marathon’s pricing. According to the complaint, Marathon further reduces competition by adding deed restrictions to some of the property parcels it sells that prohibit the purchaser of the property from selling gas or operating a convenience store. Some of the restrictions have an exception that will allow for development of a gas station if the station sells only Marathon gas. State sought injunctive relief, civil penalties of $2000 per violation, restitution to citizens and to the state and attorneys’ fees. Defendants moved to disqualify the outside counsel retained by the state on the grounds that the contingent fee arrangement was improper. The court denied Marathon’s motion to dismiss as to the federal antitrust, state antitrust and deceptive practices claims, but denied the state’s unjust enrichment claim because consumers only conferred an indirect benefit on Marathon by buying gasoline at allegedly inflated prices, not a direct benefit.
Oregon ex rel. rosenblum v. AU Optronics Corp.
Following guilty pleas to criminal price-fixing by several LCD manufacturers, and a conviction after trial of another, Oregon filed suit against LCD manufacturers, alleging that top executives of several companies held numerous secret meetings from at least 1999 through at least 2006 for the purpose of exchanging information and setting prices on LCD panels. According to the complaint, companies such as Dell, Apple, and Hewlett Packard were among those targeted by the manufacturers’ price-fixing scheme. According to the lawsuit, the illegal overcharges were ultimately borne by state consumers and state government purchasers. The suit also alleges fraudulent concealment of the conspiracy. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, civil penalties and injunctive relief under the Sherman Act and state antitrust statutes. A number of states filed in the MDL, but Oregon filed originally in federal district court in Oregon, and was transferred, with its consent, to the MDL. Oregon reached individual settlements with many defendants, totaling $21 million (Hitachi Displays, $565,000; Chi Mai, $1,634,600; Epson, $105,000; LG Display, $6,975,000; Sharp, $1,950,000; Samsung, $4.5 million; AU Optronics, $4.25 million; Toshiba, $525,000; HannStar, $1 million)
People of the State of California v. Bioelements, Inc.
State sued and entered into settlement with Bioelements, a maker of “cosmeceuticals” for skin care. Bioelements had entered into agreements with retailers fixing the prices at which Bioelements products could be sold on the Internet. Settlement enjoined the conduct and Bioelements paid $51,000 in civil penalties and attorneys fees.
Washington v. AU Optronics, No. 10-2-29164-4 (Super. Ct., King Cty., 2010)
Plaintiff state filed an antitrust action against several major technology companies for illegally fixing prices for liquid crystal display (“LCD”) screens used in computers, televisions, and cell phones. The lawsuit seeks to recover damages suffered from 1998 to 2006 by Washington and other public purchasers that purchased computers and other goods containing the price-fixed screens. The suit seeks damages, restitution, and civil penalties on behalf of the state and as parens patriae for state consumers.
After decisions declining to allow the defendants to remove the cases to federal court under CAFA, and affirming the state’s jurisdiction over foreign corporations, the state reached settlements with the defendants totalling $63 million. Defendants also agreed to future monitoring and to implementing antitrust compliance programs.
Kansas v. Meds-Stat (
Plaintiff state sued Flrida vaccine firm , Meds-Stat,alleging the company planned to sell flu vaccine at prices almost 1,000 percent higher than the original list prices in the wake of the U.S. flu vaccine shortage.
The settlement required Meds-Stat to affirm the company sold no vaccine in the state at exorbitant prices, reimburse the state for costs of the investigation as well as legal fees and expenses, and assist the state in identifying problems in the vaccine distribution network to prevent future price gouging.
Massachusetts v. Great American Insurance Group (Suffolk Superior Court)
State complaint alleged that in 2004, at the request of insurance broker Marsh & McLennan, Great American submitted a fake and intentionally uncompetitive quote to Norwood based semiconductor manufacturer Analog Devices. Great American submitted this fake bid to make another insurance company’s bid look competitive. In return for this favor, Marsh & McLennan steered another one of Analog Devices? insurance policies to Great American at a pre-determined price. Insurers such as Great American paid Marsh & McLennan lucrative contingent commissions based on the volume of business Marsh & McLennan placed with them. The state sought restitution, civil penalties, injunctive relief and costs. In May 2009, the case settled Under the terms of the settlement, Great American is required to pay $60,000 to Analog Devices and $116,000 to the state. The agreement also requires Great American to undertake conduct reforms aimed at preventing insurance bid rigging in excess casualty insurance. Among other
things, Great American is specifically prohibited from colluding with brokers or other insurance companies to unlawfully fix insurance prices and is required to retain certain records concerning its bidding practices.
Connecticut v. Viking Sewing Machine Co., Inc., No. CV-79-0240205 (Ct. Super. Ct., Hartford 1979)
Manufacturer of sewing machines was prohibited by a consent decree from agreeing with dealers on resale prices or advertised resale prices in Connecticut for a three-year period.
Washington v. Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Walla Walla, et. al, CY 90-3032AAM, USDC Eastern District of Washington
The State alleged that defendants engaged in a conspiracy to fix prices, rotate bids, allocate locations of vending machines and eliminate discounts.