CHICAGO (December 22, 2010) — McDermott Will & Emery LLP is pleased to announce that the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut granted summary judgment to Firm clients, Stora Enso North America Corporation and Stora Enso Oyj, dismissing allegations by a class of direct purchasers that Stora Enso had conspired to fix prices for publication paper sold in the United States in violation of the Sherman Act Section 1.
Stora Enso North America Corporation and its parent company, Stora Enso Oyj, collectively are one of the leading forest product companies in the world.
David Marx, partner and head of the Firm's Chicago Antitrust & Competition Practice Group who represents the two companies, commented, “For more than six years we have been defending Stora Enso North America and Stora Enso Oyj through the government investigation, criminal trial, and the civil class actions. Our client is very pleased with this summary judgment and we look forward to concluding the two remaining cases brought by indirect purchasers.”
In 2004, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced an investigation into the publication paper industry. Following the DOJ announcement, nine actions were brought by individual plaintiffs on behalf of direct purchasers of publication paper. These actions were consolidated for pretrial proceedings in the District of Connecticut as a single multi-district litigation. The plaintiffs alleged that Stora Enso North America Corporation and Stora Enso Oyj had conspired with one of its competitors to fix prices and reduce capacity for certain brands of magazine paper from August 2002 through June 2003. The allegations focused specifically on price increases in August 2002, November 2002 and February 2003, and communications and meetings between Stora Enso North America's president and his counterpart at another paper producer.
Despite the fact that the alleged co-conspirator had settled with the direct purchaser plaintiffs and entered into a full cooperation agreement with them, the court granted Stora Enso’s motion for summary judgment in its entirety, closing the cases brought by the direct purchaser class plaintiffs. Specifically, the court held that the “plaintiffs’ case at summary judgment amount[ed] to nothing more than seven instances of information sharing between executives of competing entities that had no impact on future business activity" and that there was "no evidence in the record that SENA altered its conducts because of any agreement [between the two executives].” The court also noted that the “plaintiffs’ evidence [did] not tend to exclude the possibility that the defendants acted in accordance with independent, permissible business justification when following a rival’s price increase.”
In July 2007, McDermott defended Stora Enso North America Corporation during a five-day jury trial in the related criminal case brought by the DOJ in which the jury acquitted Stora Enso North America of all charges. The criminal trial was the culmination of a three-year investigation by the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, which had given amnesty under the Antitrust Division's Corporate Leniency Policy to the alleged co-conspirator.
The motion for summary judgment was briefed and argued by antitrust partner David Marx and associates Amy Carletti and Nicole Castle.
McDermott’s Antitrust & Competition Practice Group has broad experience in all aspects of antitrust and competition law. Ranked among the top 10 in size, the practice has lawyers with significant antitrust and competition experience in its Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Rome, New York and Washington D.C. offices. The practice includes partners who have held senior positions in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and State Attorney General’s Offices for Antitrust. McDermott lawyers regularly represent clients before the FTC, DOJ, DG Competition and the U.S. federal courts.
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