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From Antitrust Law Daily, January 4, 2017

Aisan Industry agrees to pay $1.4M to settle auto parts price fixing litigation

By Linda O’Brien, J.D., LL.M.

In a consolidated antitrust action that dealers of new automobiles brought against manufacturers of automotive parts, for allegedly conspiring to fix the prices of certain automotive parts, Japanese manufacturer Aisan Industry Co., Ltd., has reached an agreement to settle the dealers’ claims regarding fuel injection systems, according to the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval of a proposed settlement that was filed in the federal district court in Detroit. The plaintiffs also moved for provisional certification of the settlement class (In re Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation, January 3, 2017).

In the proposed settlement agreement, Aisan Industry will pay $1,440,000 into an interest-bearing escrow account. Aisan has agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of antitrust claims against the remaining defendants, including attorney proffers, interviews of witnesses, and the production of certain documents concerning sales of fuel injection systems. Aisan’s obligation to cooperate also includes providing to class counsel the identity of all current and former employees who were interviewed and/or prosecuted by the Department of Justice, Japanese Fair Trade Commission, European Commission, or any other governmental entity for alleged price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation of fuel injections systems.

For purposes of the agreement, the settlement class is defined as all automobile dealerships that, from January 1, 2000, through the execution date: (1) purchased a new vehicle in the United States for resale, which included as a component part one or more fuel injection systems manufactured or sold by a defendant, or (2) indirectly purchased one or more fuel injection systems, as a replacement part, that were manufactured or sold by a defendant.

According to the memorandum in support of the motion, the settlement falls well within the range of possible approval and achieves an excellent result for the class members, given the expense, duration, and uncertainty of continued litigation. Further, the settlement was the result of thorough and extensive arm’s length negotiations by highly experienced counsel.

The motion states that the settlement class satisfies the requirements for class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. The proposed settlement class is so numerous that it is impracticable to bring all class members before the court. Moreover, the class representatives share common legal and factual questions, the claims of the class representatives are typical of the claims of the members of the proposed settlement class, and class counsel and the class representatives will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the settlement class. Finally, common questions of law and fact predominate over individual questions, and a class action is superior to other methods for the fair adjudication of the controversy, according to the motion.

The case is No. 2:13-cv-02202-MOB.

Attorneys: Gerard V. Mantese (Mantese Honigman, P.C.), Jonathan W. Cuneo (Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP), Don Barrett (Barrett Law Group, P.A.), and Shawn M. Raiter (Larson King, LLP) for the automobile dealer plaintiffs. Barry A. Pupkin (Squire Sanders [US] LLP) for Aisan Industry Co., Ltd.

Companies: Superstore Automotive, Inc.; Landers Auto Group No. 1, Inc.; Hammett Motor Co., Inc.; Denso Corp.; Denso International America, Inc.; Aisan Industry Co., Ltd.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust MichiganNews

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