On May 26, 2017, U.S. District Judge Harry S. Mattice Jr. granted final approval to a $30 million settlement between direct purchasers and the two largest manufacturers of cast iron soil pipe and fittings (“CISP”) in the country, McWane Inc. and Charlotte Pipe & Foundry. The settlement concludes the putative class action in which plaintiffs alleged that the manufactures violated federal antitrust laws by overcharging direct purchasers by fixing prices and muscling out competitors.

Cohen Milstein was co-lead counsel on behalf of the direct purchaser plaintiffs.

Case Background

On August 11, 2014, Cohen Milstein filed a consolidated amended complaint on behalf of the Plaintiffs, who alleged that Defendants AB&I Foundry, Tyler Pipe Company and McWane, Inc. (collectively, “McWane”); Defendants Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company and Randolph Holding Company LLC (collectively, “Charlotte Pipe”); and Defendant Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute, Inc. (“CISPI”), first conspired to fix, raise, maintain and stabilize the prices of CISP from at least January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2013.  Defendants McWane and Charlotte Pipe are the two principal manufacturers of CISP, together representing more than 90% of the United States market. Plaintiffs also allege that Charlotte Pipe's 2010 acquisition and liquidation of Star Pipe Products, Ltd.'s ("Star Pipe's") CISP business, which resulted in substantially decreased competition in the market for CISP, was an illegal acquisition, undertaken to facilitate and ensure the success of the price-fixing conspiracy alleged.

The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") also brought enforcement proceedings against Defendants challenging the same conduct for which Plaintiffs sought relief. The FTC launched an investigation into Charlotte Pipe's acquisition of Star Pipe's CISP business, resulting in the FTC's filing of an administrative complaint against Charlotte Pipe in April 2013.  Subsequently, Charlotte Pipe entered into a Consent Agreement, prohibiting it from engaging in certain anti-competitive activities. 

In re: Cast Iron Soil Pipe and Fittings Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 1:14-md-2508, Judge Harry S. Mattice, Jr., U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Chattanooga