On December 5, 2017, the U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson granted preliminary approval of an $8.8 million settlement between direct purchasers of ductile iron pipe fittings (“DIPF”) and McWane Inc., the last-remaining defendant in a putative class action, in which the plaintiffs accused the defendant of fixing prices and other anti-competitive behavior with two of its peers.
McWane was sued in February 2012 along with Star Pipe Products Ltd. and Sigma Corp. Sigma settled with the direct purchasers for $4.9 million in May 2015, while Star Pipe settled for $3.6 million in July 2015.
Once the McWane settlement is granted final approval, the total settlement for the litigation will be more than: $17.3 million.
On May 15, 2012, Judge Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey appointed Cohen Milstein as co-lead counsel on behalf of the putative class direct purchasers.
On February 10, 2014, Cohen Milstein filed an second amended complaint, in which plaintiffs allege that defendants McWane, Inc., Sigma Corporation, and Star Pipe Products, Ltd.—the three principal manufacturers of DIPF representing more than 90% of the United States Market—first conspired to fix the prices of DIPF from at least January 2008 through May 2009. Plaintiffs also allege that from September 17, 2009, through at least January 3, 2012, Defendants McWane and Sigma conspired to monopolize and fix prices in the domestic DIPF Market.
The Federal Trade Commission brought enforcement proceedings against Defendants challenging the same conduct for which Plaintiffs sought relief. As a result of the FTC’s enforcement action, both Sigma and Star entered into consent decrees with the FTC in which they were directed to cease and desist from conspiring to “maintain or stabilize prices” with their competitors.
In May 2015 Sigma Corp. agreed to pay $4.9 million to Plaintiffs, and in July 2015 Star Pipe Products Ltd. agreed to pay roughly $3.6 million to the same group of Plaintiffs.
The case then proceeded to active litigation against the sole remaining defendant, McWane Inc. This included the review of hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and the taking of numerous depositions across the country. The remaining parties then engaged in expert discovery and briefed and argued class certification. Class certification was pending when, McWane agreed to negotiate a settlement.
In re Ductile Iron Pipe Fittings (DIPF) Direct Purchaser Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 12-711 (AET)(LHG), United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.