The Illinois Attorney General filed a bid-rigging case against two contractors who allegedly conspired and rigged bids on contracts for spreading oil on roads. One defendant settled, and the other was found liable at trial and was assessed civil penalties.
State alleged, as part of multidistrict litigation of antitrust claims against auto parts manufacturers, that TRW conspired with other parts manufacturers to rig bids for, fix and maintain the price of Occupant Safety Restraing Systems, installed in cars purchased by the state.State alleged violations of Sherman Act sec. 1 and the Cartwright Act (Cal Bus. & Prof. Code sec. 16720) and California’s Unfair Competition Law (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Cod sec. 17200). State sought damages and “deadweight loss” (gneeral damage to state) and disgorgement. Settlement was $122,500. TRW agreed to cooperate fully with the state in investigating other participants in the conspiracy.
In the Matter of the Investigation of Compulink Technologies, Inc.Assurance No. 17-137 (July 28, 2017)
Defendants are providers of GovDelivery, a cloud-based digital communications solution. New York State government entities issued RFPs seeking bids for GovDelivery solutions. Compulink submitted bids. In order to provide the necessary number of bids for the procurement process in New York, Compulink arranged for Milenio, run by the wife of Compulink’s owner, and another bidder to submit bids at a higher price than Compulink’s. Compulink was awarded contracts as a result fo these sham bids. Although the bids were rigged, the investigation determined that the sham bids were submitted to satisfy the requirements for an expedited procurement process, rather than to secure higher prices. The parties agreed not to communicate with others concerning bids, not to hold themselves out as separate entities, and allow the AG to monitor their future conduct. They also paid $75,000 in civil penalties..Denise Arboleda, President of Milenio Technology, also pled guilty to failure to obey the command of a subpoena.
Oregon filed suit against cathode ray tube (CRT) manufacturers, alleging that they illegally agreed upon the pricing of CRTs. The Attorney General filed this action on behalf of the State of Oregon and Oregon natural persons, and sought restitution, civil penalties, disgorgement and injunctive relief.
The State of California, et al. v. Samsung SDI, Co., Ltd., et al., Case No. CGC-11-515784, Calif. Superior Court, San Fran. Cty. Nov. 8, 2011
California sued makers of CRTs alleging they were part of a price-fixing scheme that resulted in overcharges in the price of products that contained CRTs, such as televisions and computer monitors. The alleged price fixing scheme occurred between March 1, 1995 and November 25, 2007. According to the complaint, the conspiracy involved top-level meetings of key executive decision-makers in Asia and Europe to set prices and outputs of CRTs. It also involved worldwide meetings among lower-level executives to exchange confidential information. The settlements, which were filed in San Francisco Superior Court, require all five companies to pay a total of $4.95 million to settle claims of overcharges paid by California government entities, general damages suffered by the State’s economy, and civil penalties. The settlements require that the companies pay back the illegally obtained profits to those affected by their actions. In addition, the settlements include injunctive relief, which requires that each company engage in company-wide antitrust compliance training and reporting that involves products in addition to CRTs and extends to foreign companies and subsidiaries. Finally, the settlements include requirements, enforceable by the court via fines and imprisonment, to prevent future violations of antitrust law. There was a parallel class action by indirect purchasers nationwide that was brought in federal court by private parties. The state worked with the private plaintiffs and a settlement agreement was reached, under which California consumers recovered damages.
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.
Plaintiff states alleged that the makers of Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, engaged in a scheme to block generic competitors and raise prices. Specifically, they are conspiring to wtich Suboxone from a tablet version to a flim in order to prevent or delay generic entry. The states allege that the manufacturers engaged in “product hopping” in which a company makes slight changes to its product to extend patent protections and prvent generic alternatives. The complaint was filed under seal.
California sued Panasonic Corp. and its U.S. arm in Michigan federal court, alleging that the electronics company conspired to fix prices of switches and other car parts. The state alleged that from at least July 1998 to February 2010, the electronics company conspired with other companies to fix prices for various switches in vehicles, high-intensity-discharge lamp ballasts and steering angle censors, resulting in increased costs for state agencies purchasing cars and parts, along with increased costs for the stateï¿½s consumers. The complaint charged the companies with violations of both federal and California antitrust laws, unfair competition and unjust enrichment, and alleged that the deadweight losses to the economy of the state, including reduced output, higher prices and reduction in consumer welfare. The complaint was filed to effectuate a settlement between California and Florida and Panasonic that had been reached in 2015. California received $350,000 and Florida received $187,500 and Panasonic provided the states with all documents and information from the investigations by USDOJ, the EU and Japan and documents provided to class counsel in the multidistrict litigation.
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.
Commonwealth of Pennsyvlania v. Chesapeake Energy Corp, No. 2015IR0069 (Ct. Comm. Pleas, Bradford Cty, 2015)
State filed action in state court alleging market allocation agreement affecting leases for hydraulic fracturing on land in central Pennsylvania. The state alleged that the failure to disclose the agreement violated state consumer protection laws, and that the agreement itself violated Pennsylvania antitrust common law. After defendants argued that Pennsylvania has no state antitrust statute, the state filed an amended complaint which included claims of violations of the federal antitrust laws. Defendants sought removal.