January 20, 2010
Labaton Sucharow LLP Secures Partial Settlement of $13.75 Million in In re Puerto Rican Cabotage Antitrust Litigation
NEW YORK (January 20, 2010) - Labaton Sucharow LLP announced today a $13.75 million partial settlement in In re Puerto Rican Cabotage Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1960 with Defendants Crowley Maritime Corp. and Crowley Liner Services (“Crowley”). As part of the settlement, in lieu of receiving a cash payment, class members with a Transportation Service Agreement with Crowley may elect a two year freeze of its contract “base rate” in effect at the expiration of the contract. This would enable Crowley customers to avoid rate increases for a two-year period following the effective date of the settlement. The action is pending before the Honorable Daniel R. Dominguez in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. The proposed settlement requires Court approval.
The case is being prosecuted for the benefit of a class of purchasers of coastal water freight transportation services between the United States and Puerto Rico (“Puerto Rican cabotage”) for conspiring to suppress and eliminate competition in the market for Puerto Rican cabotage by allocating customers, rigging bids to customers, and fixing the prices of rates, surcharges and other fees charged to customers in violation of Sections 1 and 3 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1 and 3.
In June 2009, Labaton Sucharow settled with Defendant Horizon Lines for $20 million. Plaintiffs have also settled with Alexander G. Chisholm in exchange for extensive cooperation in the case against the remaining Defendants. After this settlement with Crowley, the remaining Defendants include Sea Star Line, LLC, Trailer Bridge, Inc., Saltchuk Resources, Inc., Peter Baci, and Leonard Shapiro. In October 2008, four former Horizon Lines and Sea Star Line executives pleaded guilty for antitrust violations in the U.S. mainland-Puerto Rico maritime trade, and the one Sea Star executive with whom Plaintiffs settled pleaded guilty to destroying evidence of price-fixing, specifically by destroying computer files sought by investigators when federal agents raided the company.
On December 12, 2008, the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico appointed Ms. Salzman as part of Plaintiffs’ Interim Co-Lead Counsel. The parties have fully briefed the motions to dismiss the remaining Defendants and are awaiting decisions by the Court.
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