January 19, 2012
Labaton Sucharow LLP Secures $5.04 Million in Settlements in the Marine Products Litigations
NEW YORK (January 19, 2012) — Labaton Sucharow LLP, lead counsel, secured final approval of partial settlements in two antitrust class actions involving marine products.
In Ace Marine Rigging & Supply, Inc. v. Virginia Harbor Services, Inc. et al., which alleges anticompetitive conduct in the foam-filled marine fenders and buoys industry, the Court granted final approval of four settlements with 10 Defendants: (1) Virginia Harbor Services, Inc., Fentek Marine Systems GmbH, Robert B. Taylor and Donald Murray ($3.1 million); (2) Marine International, Inc. and John Deats ($50,000); (3) Waterman Supply Co., Inc. and Seymour Waterman ($40,000); and (4) Marine Fenders International and Gerald Thermos (for extensive cooperation), resulting in a total of $3.19 million.
In Board of Commissioners of The Port of New Orleans v. Virginia Harbor Services, Inc. et al., which alleges anticompetitive conduct in the marine pilings industry, the Court granted final approval of two settlements with four Defendants: (1) Virginia Harbor Services, Inc., Robert B. Taylor and William Alan Potts ($1.85 million); and (2) Gerald Thermos (for extensive cooperation).
The two actions are pending before the Honorable George Wu in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The cases continue against the remaining Defendants.
The two cases are being prosecuted on behalf of proposed classes of direct purchasers of foam-filled fenders and buoys and marine pilings. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants and their co-conspirators engaged in conspiracies to unlawfully inflate the prices charged to purchase these marine products between June 1, 2000 and December 31, 2005 (foam-filled fenders and buoys conspiracy) and between January 1, 2000 and August 31, 2005 (marine pilings conspiracy) by colluding on prices to charge, rigging bids and allocating customers and markets in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1.
"These settlements are an excellent result for the entities that overpaid for their purchases of foam-filled fenders and buoys and marine pilings during the alleged multi-year conspiracy, and the Court's orders granting final approval of these settlements reflects this," said Gregory Asciolla, lead attorney for plaintiffs and the classes in the two actions.
The United States Department of Justice's Antitrust Division ("DOJ") launched a criminal investigation into the alleged conspiracy to unlawfully rig bids and allocate markets for the sale of foam-filled fenders and buoys, to which settling Defendants Virginia Harbor Services, Taylor, Murray and Thermos pleaded guilty, paid millions in fines and served jail time. The DOJ also launched a criminal investigation into the alleged conspiracy to unlawfully rig bids and allocate markets for the sale of marine pilings, to which settling Defendants Virginia Harbor Services, Taylor and Potts pleaded guilty, paid millions in fines and served jail time. In addition, the DOJ intervened in a qui tam lawsuit brought by a whistleblower on behalf of federal government entities which alleged similar unlawful conduct under the False Claims Act, resulting in settlements with several defendants for approximately $15.4 million, including with several of the settling Defendants in the class actions.