Volume 50, Issue 12 - December 2015


Judge OKs Steel Lawsuit Settlement

More than 1,800 checks are being written as a result of a steel antitrust lawsuit, ongoing since 2008. Judge James B. Zagel in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division approved the distribution of settlement funds for 1,857 claims totaling just under $103.7 million. The class of claimants includes parties that purchased product from five of eight steel manufacturers alleged to have conspired in price-fixing a decade ago.

In 2008, Pennsylvania-based Standard Iron Works and four other companies filed a lawsuit alleging U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal conspired with six other domestic steel manufacturers “to manipulate the supply and price of steel products sold in the United States,” according to court documents. The plaintiffs alleged that, from April 1, 2005 to December 31, 2007, the eight steelmakers “conspired to restrict their output, thereby increasing the prices they were able to charge for steel products.”

Last year, five of the companies listed as defendants—Commercial Metals Company, AK Steel Holding Corp., Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel—settled. Throughout litigation, all of the settling defendants denied any wrongdoing as well as the allegations against them, though they claimed to have settled in order to avoid the cost of further litigation and trial.

During the past year, an extensive notice and claims process has been underway. Claims administrator Garden City Group (GGC) and the Class Council have reviewed filed data, audited claims, reviewed disputed claims and went through various vetting procedures.

In October, the Council approved the distribution of settlement funds.

The available balance of the settlement funds totaled nearly $104 million, and Zagel approved that $250,000 be set aside for “reasonable, anticipated further expenses, including GCG’s fees and expenses to prepare its report, conduct the distribution, provide notice of the recent certification of the litigation class, and address contingencies such as paying any taxes due on interest earned by the Settlement Funds, and funding any unanticipated costs.”

The settlements approved last year, totaling $163.9 million, were made in accordance with the size of the companies and their output during the span of the alleged price-fixing.

Nucor, Steel Dynamics and SSAB Swedish Steel are the other three defendant parties in litigation.

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