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From Antitrust Law Daily, November 14, 2014

Settlement in polyurethane foam antitrust case receives preliminary approval

By Linda O’Brien, J.D., LL.M.

A proposed settlement by furniture component supplier Leggett & Platt to resolve antitrust claims brought by direct purchasers regarding the sale of flexible polyurethane foam has been given preliminary approval by the federal district court in Toledo, Ohio (In re Polyurethane Foam Antitrust Litigation, November 6, 2014, Zouhary, J.).

Leggett—a leading U.S. manufacturer of components for residential furniture and bedding, office furniture components, and automotive seat support and lumbar systems—is one of several defendants in a series of class actions involving an alleged conspiracy to fix prices for chemicals used in the manufacture of polyurethane products. The proposed settlement of $39.8 million includes attorneys fees and costs. Leggett remains a defendant in other antitrust cases involving the sale of polyurethane foam.

Additionally, defendant Carpenter Co., the world’s largest producer of comfort cushioning products, has agreed to pay direct purchasers $108 million to resolve allegations regarding its role in the alleged polyurethane foam price fixing conspiracy, according to the direct purchaser plaintiffs’ (DPPs) motion for preliminary approval of the settlement. The DPPs also moved for class certification of the DPP class and proposed settlement classes on an expedited basis in order to finalize and send their notices on the court’s approved schedule.

Reopening of proceedings. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati yesterday denied a motion by manufacturer defendant, Woodbridge Foam Corp., to reopen its petition to appeal the district court’s grant of class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f). Woodbridge sought to reopen the proceedings in order to stay issuance of class notice pending the disposition of their yet unfiled petition for certiorari. The appellate court noted that a critical factor in weighing whether a stay was appropriate was whether the movant had a likelihood of success on appeal. Given the denial of Woodridge’s Rule 23(f) petition, there was no appeal from the district court proceedings and consequently Woodridge could not demonstrate a likelihood of success on appeal, the court concluded.

The case is No. 1:10 MD 2196.

Attorneys: James Hamilton Walsh (McGuire Woods) for Carpenter Co., Carpenter Holdings Inc., and E.R. Carpenter, LP. Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. (Gibson Dunn) for Flexible Foam Products Inc., and Future foam Inc. Peter Michael Ryan (Cozen & O'Connor) for Foamex Innovations Inc. William A. Isaacson (Boies, Schiller & Flexner) and Stephen R. Neuwirth (Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan) for Direct Purchaser Class. Marvin A. Miller (Miller Law LLC) for Indirect Purchaser Class.

Companies: Leggett & Platt, Inc.; Carpenter Co.; Carpenter Holdings Inc.; E.R. Carpenter, LP; Flexible Foam Products Inc.; Foamex Innovations Inc.; Future foam Inc.; Woodbridge Foam Corp.

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