For years, the major automakers have price-discriminated in the market for new vehicles between the United States and Canada. Identical new vehicles have typically sold for ten to thirty percent less in Canada than in the U.S. The price difference helped create a flourishing export business where exporters acted as arbitragers, buying less expensive vehicles in Canada and reselling them to the U.S. for resale (so-called "gray market sales"). In an effort to halt the flow of vehicles over the border, the major automakers reached an agreement to prevent the lawful export of lower-priced Canadian vehicles from being sold or leased in the United States. The effect and harm of defendants’ conspiracy was to raise and stabilize the retail prices of all new vehicles sold in the U.S., which were consequently paid by consumers.
Numerous class action lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts across the country on behalf of consumers who purchased or leased a new vehicle from the automaker defendants’ franchised dealers from January 1, 2001 to the present. Plaintiffs allege violations of federal and state antitrust laws, consumer protection act statutes and unjust enrichment.
Cases are currently pending in state courts in Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee and Wisconsin. The federal actions have been coordinated and consolidated for pretrial purposes before Judge D. Brock Hornby in the District of Maine, In re New Motor Vehicles Canadian Export Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1532. Merits discovery has concluded in the consolidated case and the defendants are expected to file motions for summary judgment at the end of 2007.