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From Antitrust Law Daily, May 14, 2018

Calsonic agrees to pay $3.5M to settle auto parts price fixing claims

By Peter Reap, J.D., LL.M.

In the long-running consolidated antitrust case brought in the federal district court in Detroit by separate groups of plaintiffs alleging that vehicle parts manufacturers conspired to fix prices for parts, the Automobile Dealer Plaintiffs (ADPs) have moved for preliminary approval of a proposed settlement with Calsonic Kansei Corporation and CalsonicKansei North America, Inc. (collectively, Calsonic). The suit alleged that the ADPs were injured as a result of Calsonic’s participation in unlawful conspiracies to raise, fix, and maintain prices, rig bids, and allocate markets and customers for radiators, ATF warmers, oil coolers, and air conditioning systems in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act and various state antitrust, unfair competition, and consumer protection laws. The proposed settlement agreement requires Calsonic to pay $3.5 million and seeks provisional approval of a proposed settlement class (In re: Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation, October 18, 2017).

The settlements between the ADPs and CALSONIC will result in a total payment of $3,512,160.00. This total settlement amount is the sum of the payments being made to each ADP settlement class: $1,764,509.19 to the Radiators Settlement Class; $120,115.87 to the ATF Warmers Settlement Class (including oil coolers); and $1,627,534.94 to the Air Conditioning Systems Class. ATF Warmers are devices located in the engine compartment of a vehicle that warm the automatic transmission fluid. The settlement also requires Calsonic to provide cooperation in the form of attorney proffers, interviews with and depositions of witnesses, and the production of certain documents.

According to the ADPs, the settlement arises from extensive arm’s length and good faith negotiations. The agreement releases Calsonic from all settlement class members’ claims arising out of or relating in any way to any conduct alleged in the complaint, or any act or omission of Calsonic concerning radiators, ATF warmers, and air conditioning systems.

The settlement is an excellent resolution of the proposed settlement classes’ claims that maximizes their recovery and guarantees cooperation by Calsonic that may prove invaluable in the continued prosecution of ADPs’ claims in this multidistrict litigation, the ADPs assert. Given the uncertainty involved in litigating a complex antitrust class action, and their expense and duration, the settlement is an excellent result. Moreover, given the stakes involved, an appeal is nearly certain to follow regardless of the outcome at trial. This creates additional risk, as judgments following trial may be overturned on appeal.

The proposed settlement classes meet the requirements of Rule 23(a) for numerosity, commonality, typicality, and fair and adequate representation by the class representatives and class counsel, the ADPs argue in their motion. Further, it meets the requirements under Rule 23(b) of predominance and superiority. As for the provision of notice to class members, the interim class counsel request that the court allow them to defer providing notice of this settlement until a later time. The ADPs will submit a motion for leave to disseminate notice and that motion will include a proposed form of, method for, and date of dissemination of notice.

The case is No. 2:13-cv-01002-MOB-MKM.

Attorneys: Don Barrett (Barrett Law Group, P.A.), Jonathan W. Cuneo (Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP) and Shawn M. Raiter (Carson King, LLP) for Automobile Dealership Actions. Steven Reiss (Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP) for Calsonic Kansei Corp. and CalsonicKansei North America, Inc.

Companies: Automobile Dealership Actions; Calsonic Kansei Corp.; CalsonicKansei North America, Inc.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust MichiganNews

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