Jury orders Dow Chemical to pay $400 million for price-fixing

The company colluded with competitors to set prices of the chemical urethane, a Kansas City court found

Dow Chemical Co. must pay $400 million to a class of purchasers after a federal jury ruled Wednesday that the company conspired to fix prices of the chemical urethane.

Urethane is used to manufacture everything from cars to packaging to furniture. In 2005, a group of more than 60 urethane purchasers filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that Dow, Huntsman International, Lyondell Chemical Co., Bayer AG and BASF SE joined forces to set prices of the chemical for five years beginning in 1999.

Dow’s co-defendants agreed to settle the case for more than $139 million collectively, leaving the Michigan-based chemical giant as the last holdout. This week, a Kansas City, Kan. jury sided with the plaintiffs, although it did not find Dow liable for the entire five years of the conspiracy.

The $400 million verdict is considerably less than the $1.125 billion in damages that plaintiffs originally sought. But the victorious purchasers could still get more than $1 billion if a judge approves the jury’s verdict, since federal antitrust law allows the damages to be tripled.

Dow, meanwhile, continues to deny all allegations of wrongdoing, and will seek to have the suit dismissed in a post-trial motion, according to Reuters.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of alleged price-fixing schemes, see:

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Alanna Byrne

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