Two class actions filed against automotive supplier for alleged price fixing

Michelle Keahey Jan. 9, 2012, 7:42am


A few months after an automotive supplier pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $200 million fine for its role in price-fixing automotive wire harnesses, two federal class actions have been filed in New Orleans on behalf of automotive consumers.

Joseph Muscara filed the lawsuit against Delphi Automotive, Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd., Lear Corp., Leoni AG, Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd., S-Y Systems Technologies, GmbH, Yazaki Corp., and Yazaki North America Inc. on Dec. 29 in federal court in New Orleans.

The second class action was filed by Gary T. Brock in federal court in New Orleans on Jan. 3, 2012.

The lawsuits argue that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to unlawfully fix and artificially raise the prices of automotive wire harnesses and related products.

"Defendant Furukawa has pled guilty to criminal information brought by the United States, charging that it participated in conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition in the automotive parts industry by agreeing to rig bids for, and to fix, stabilize and maintain the prices of automotive wire harnesses and related products sold in the United States," the court documents state.

The plaintiffs argue that the illegal conduct started at least as early as January 2000. The proposed class actions will represent anyone who has purchased or leased new motor vehicles containing automotive wire harnesses from Jan. 1, 2000 until at least Dec. 31, 2010.

The defendants are accused of violations of the Sherman Act, state antitrust and restraint of trade laws and unjust enrichment.

The lawsuits are asking the Court to declare that the defendants' conduct constituted unlawful restraint of trade and for an award of restitution and damages, statutory damages, punitive or treble damages, interest, court costs and attorney's fees.

Muscara is represented by Russ M. Herman, Leonard A. Davis and Stephen J. Herman of Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar in New Orleans and Arnold Levin, Howard J. Sedran, Fred S. Longer, Austin B. Cohen, Charles Sweedler and Keith Verrier of Levin Fishbein Sedran & Berman in Philadelphia. A jury trial is requested.

Case No. 2:11-cv-03177-MLCF and Case No. 2:12-cv-00003-KDE

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