The massive antitrust case pending in Detroit has produced another settlement for plaintiffs. On Monday June 3, 2014, Autoliv Inc. agreed to pay $65 million to settle with direct purchasers, auto dealers, and consumers in an antitrust class action accusing the Swedish auto parts maker and others of conspiring to fix the price of occupant safety systems. Autoliv will pay the end-payor group of consumers $19 million and auto dealers $6 million to resolve the case. The bulk of the fund – $40 million – will go to the direct purchasers.
Autoliv has already paid the government $14.5 million as part of a plea deal in a related criminal probe. The occupant safety systems cases are just part of the sprawling multidistrict litigation (MDL) that has followed in the wake of the U.S. Department of Justice’s own expansive investigation into the auto parts industry, which has already yielded more than $1 billion in fines.
The case, formally known as In re: Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation, case number 2:12-md-02311, is pending in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Sommers Schwartz is among the law firms representing direct purchaser class in the many related class actions pending in MDL 2311. Partner Jason Thompson is working on the litigation and said, “The broad scope and nature of the price-fixing activity that went on for so many years in the auto industry is sad. It really is a wakeup call to all those who blindly trust the free market to fix all of our problems.”
Antitrust lawsuits and lawyers representing the purchasers of price-fixed products often work in tandem with the Department of Justice to remedy the problem and hold the lawbreakers accountable. The DOJ prosecutes the offenders and fines them. But the restitution is left to the civil antitrust lawyers. The partnership works well, as it is in the Auto Parts MDL in Detroit.