Judge denies motion to dismiss price-fixing claims against US Dow

05 February 2014 18:37 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A US district judge has denied Dow Chemical’s request to dismiss class-action claims against it of fixing prices of urethane, according to court documents obtained on Wednesday.

Dow had sought to dismiss the claims made by plaintiffs Carpenter, Woodbridge and Vita on the basis that some former and current executives from those parties had invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to give deposition testimony, court documents state.

In his ruling denying Dow’s motion, Judge John Lungstrum of Kansas said that the company did not show that the plaintiffs or witnesses violated any rule or court order by invoking the privilege and thus “there is no basis to conclude that the plaintiffs acted improperly or in a dilatory manner”.

Also, the judge wrote that Dow “failed to show any culpability or improper conduct by plaintiffs themselves with respect to the invocations of the privilege”.

A Dow spokesperson on Wednesday said that the company was disappointed in the ruling.

“Dow has always denied plaintiffs' allegations of price fixing and will continue to do so in these proceedings,” the spokesperson said. “This same matter was thoroughly investigated by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) from 2005 through 2007. Dow fully cooperated with the DOJ, and the DOJ closed the investigation in December 2007 without bringing charges against any person or entity."

In May, Lungstrum ordered Dow to pay $1.2bn in damages for urethane price-fixing following a trial in US District Court in Kansas City.

Dow was the only defendant among the chemical firms named in the class-action lawsuit filed in 2005 that did not settle.

The other defendants in the case that settled include Bayer, which agreed to pay $55m in 2008. In 2011, Huntsman agreed to the settlement and paid $33m; and BASF paid $51m.

Carpenter, Woodbridge and Vita pulled out of the $1.2bn judgement and decided to file their own class-action lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Dow has appealed the $1.2bn verdict.

By Jeremy Pafford