COLCHESTER, CT, Mar. 2006 — On February 9, 2006, a federal jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio returned a verdict finding defendant Columbia Iron and Metal liable for participating in a long-standing antitrust conspiracy. The verdict resulted in treble damages totaling $34.5 million for the victims of the conspiracy.
“This trial is the culmination of four years of hard work in prosecuting these claims,” said Edmund Searby, a partner in Scott+Scott’s Ohio Office of Scott + Scott and co-lead trial counsel for the plaintiffs.
Filed in May 2002 on behalf of The Lincoln Electric Company and Profile Grinding, the action alleged that the defendants conspired to restrain competition in the purchase of scrap metals so as to unlawfully depress the prices paid to industrial companies such as Lincoln Electric.
The case drew media attention from such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and Crain’s Cleveland Business, not only for the subject matter and scale of the case but for the legal issues involved. At the outset of the action, the plaintiffs defeated an attempt by both the defendants and the United States Department of Justice to stay the case pending completion of a parallel criminal investigation.
This important procedural victory allowed the action to move forward and plaintiffs to access substantial evidence of the conspiracy, including hundreds of thousands of documents seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
After extensive analysis of the evidence, the plaintiffs broadened the case to allege the participation of nine companies in the conspiracy, including several defendants who have never been charged criminally. Prior to trial, plaintiffs reached settlements totaling more than $11 million with defendants in the case.
Searby, a former federal prosecutor, said that trials of cases of this scale and complexity are rare, but he anticipated that several of the remaining defendants might put the case to a jury.
Trial commenced on January 23, 2006, with Scott + Scott and co-trial counsel Boies, Schiller and Flexner of Washington D.C., presenting evidence of a sweeping conspiracy in violation of federal antitrust law. Searby delivered the closing argument for the plaintiffs on February 7, 2006, and the jury returned its verdict on February 9, 2006, holding liable Columbia Iron and Metal while acquitting another defendant in the case.
Searby said the result was notable because plaintiffs tried defendants that had never been charged criminally, leaving plaintiffs without the benefit of a Government investigation or trial. The verdict will be reduced under federal antitrust law to offset the settlements paid by other defendants prior to trial.
Scott + Scott actively prosecutes high-stakes antitrust cases throughout the United States and continues to achieve success for its clients.