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Antitrust precedent may be set in Chinese vitamin C settlement

If approved, the settlement will be a first under U.S. antitrust cartel law

A groundbreaking antitrust case is taking place over something so small as a vitamin. A Chinese company has agreed to settle with U.S. consumers who bought its vitamin C over allegations that it raised prices by limiting exports. The company filed the $10.5 million proposed settlement in district court on Monday.

What makes this case precedential is that, if the settlement is approved, it will be the first civil settlement by a Chinese company under U.S. antitrust cartel law. The four Chinese companies that were defendants in the lawsuit originally claimed that Chinese law required them to control the price and production of their exports, and that they were protected by a U.S. doctrine which says foreign companies whose governments compel them to break U.S. law are shielded from such allegations.

A lawyer for the class of purchasers told Reuters that now that one of the defendants has agreed to settle, that defense looks a lot weaker.

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