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From Antitrust Law Daily, April 13, 2016

Assistance sought from Korean courts in ramen price fixing suit

By Greg Hammond, J.D.

The federal district court in Oakland, California, is seeking international assistance from the appropriate judicial authority of the Republic of Korea to obtain evidence to be used in an action alleging that various Korean ramen noodle manufacturers conspired to fix the price of Korean ramen noodles. The request seeks evidence concerning a former employee’s knowledge of the alleged price fixing conspiracy (In re Korean Ramen Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 13-CV-04115-WHO-DMR).

Direct and indirect purchasers of Korean ramen noodles in the United States filed price fixing lawsuits against Nongshim Co., Ltd., Ottogi Co. Ltd., and Samyang Foods Co. Ltd., and their U.S. subsidiaries, alleging that the defendants conspired to raise the price of Korean ramen noodles, in violation of the Sherman and Clayton Acts. The plaintiffs claim that, as a result of the unlawful conspiracy, plaintiffs and other purchasers of Korean ramen noodles in the United States paid artificially high prices for the defendants’ ramen noodles and thereby suffered injury and monetary damages.

The plaintiffs now argue that a former Ottogi Korea employee was an active participant in the alleged price fixing conspiracy and that he can provide important evidence of the purported conspiracy. The manufacturers, however, contend that the employee can confirm that he has no knowledge or evidence of a conspiracy concerning the prices of ramen noodles sold in the United States.

The court seeks to obtain evidence demonstrating the former employee’s knowledge as to whether there was any price fixing in the Korean ramen industry, including: (1) knowledge of and participation in communications and meetings between the defendants concerning the pricing of Korean ramen noodles; (2) knowledge of any efforts to conceal the existence of communications or meetings between the defendants concerning the pricing of Korean ramen noodles; and (3) knowledge as to whether there was any price fixing of ramen noodles sold in the United States and whether any price fixing in the Korean ramen industry affected the price of ramen noodles sold in the United States.

The court seeks a response from the Korean judicial authority by April 22, 2016, in order to complete depositions in a timely manner.

Attorneys: Alan R. Plutzik (Bramson Plutzik Mahler & Birkhaeuser, LLP) for Stephen Fenerjian. Anne Choi Goodwin (Squire Patton Boggs) for Nongshim Co., Ltd. and Nongshim America, Inc. Joel Steven Sanders (Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP) for Ottogi Co., Ltd.

Companies: Nongshim Co., Ltd.; Nongshim America, Inc.; Ottogi Co., Ltd.; Ottogi America Inc.; Samyang Foods Co. Ltd.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust CaliforniaNews

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