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From Antitrust Law Daily, October 12, 2016

Four remaining settlements in air cargo price fixing suit granted final approval

By Linda O’Brien, J.D., LL.M.

In long-running multi-district litigation alleging that air freight companies conspired to fix the prices of air freight shipping services, the settlements with the four remaining defendants have been granted final approval by the federal district court in Brooklyn, New York. The amount of the cumulative settlements in the case exceeds $1.2 billion (In re Air Cargo Shipping Services Antitrust Litigation, October 5, 2016).

In 2006, Purchasers of air freight shipping services filed a series of class action suits against Polar Air Cargo, Atlas Air, Air China, Air New Zealand, Air India, and other airlines, alleging that the air freight carriers conspired to unlawfully fix the prices of air freight shipping services worldwide, including cargo shipments to and from the United States by concertedly levying artificially inflated surcharges.

In July 2015, the court adopted a magistrate’s October 2014 Report and Recommendation, certifying a class that includes: All persons or entities (but excluding Defendants, their parents, predecessors, successors, subsidiaries, affiliates, as well as government entities) who purchased airfreight shipping services for shipments to or from the United States directly from any of the Defendants or from any of their parents, predecessors, successors, subsidiaries, or affiliates, at any time during the period from January 1, 2000, up to and including September 30, 2006.

After conducting a fairness hearing, the court granted final approval to the proposed settlements in four separate judgments with Polar Air and Atlas AirAir ChinaAir India, and Air New Zealand. Under the settlement agreements, Polar Air and Atlas Air have agreed to pay $100 million; Air China has agreed to pay $50 million; Air India has agreed to pay $12.5 million; and Air New Zealand has agreed to pay $35 million.

According to the memorandum in support of the plaintiffs’ motion for final approval of the settlements, the settlements were a result of extensive arm’s length and hard-fought negotiations conducted by counsel informed of the facts concerning the liability and damages issues and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each party’s litigation position. Additionally, the settlements were procedurally and substantively fair, in view of the complexity, expense, and likely duration of the litigation, the extensive amount of discovery completed; and the risks of maintain the class action through trial.

The final approval of the four settlements brings the litigation to a conclusion.

The case is No. 06-MD-1775 (JG) (VVP).

Attorneys: Michael D. Hausfeld (Hausfeld LLP) and Robert N. Kaplan (Kaplan, Kilsheimer & Fox, LLP) for the Plaintiffs. James Vernon Dick (Squire Patton Boggs US LLP) and John R. Fornaciari (Baker & Hostetler LLP) for the Defendants.

Companies: Niagara Frontier Distribution, Inc.; ABM International, Inc.; Air India Ltd.; Polar Air Cargo LLC; Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Inc.; Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc.; Air China Limited; Air China Cargo Company Limited; Air New Zealand Limited

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust NewYorkNews

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