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August 2015: $430 Million Victory in Foam Antitrust Case

August 2015

On May 19, 2015, Quinn Emanuel and its co-counsel in In re Polyurethane Foam Antitrust Litigation, 10-md- 2196 (N.D. Ohio) publicly announced six settlements, totaling $275 million, with the remaining defendants in that price-fixing class action. Combined with previous settlements in the case, we achieved over $430 million for our clients, a certified class of direct purchasers of flexible polyurethane foam. This total amount represents more than 50% of the class’s highest damages estimate (described by the Court as the “best case scenario”) and more than 80% of the class’s alternative damages estimate. In the world of antitrust class actions, such a level of recovery is nearly unheard of.

Flexible polyurethane foam is a type of cushioning product that is widely used in, among other things, furniture, mattresses, carpet underlay and automobile seats. In 2010, after the Department of Justice announced an investigation into price fixing practices in the polyurethane foam industry, Quinn Emanuel and several other firms filed class actions on behalf of a putative class of direct purchasers of flexible polyurethane foam. After those cases were centralized in the Northern District of Ohio, Quinn Emanuel was selected as one of two co-lead counsel.

The six final settlements came on the eve of trial, which was scheduled to begin on March 31, 2015. In the four and a half years leading up to that moment, the firm won numerous victories against a bevy of the nation’s most well-known law firms. Among other things, we defeated the defendants’ multiple motions to dismiss; undertook wide-ranging discovery and prevailed on numerous critical discovery disputes; achieved an early settlement with, and significant assistance from, a defendant that had been granted amnesty by the Justice Department; won certification of a nationwide class of direct purchasers, and then defeated the defendants’ Rule 23(f ) petition to have the Sixth Circuit review the grant of class certification; with very limited exception, defeated defendants’ motions for summary judgment across the board; prepared the case for a jury trial and won several critical evidentiary rulings in the weeks before opening statements; and defeated the defendants’ petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court seeking review of the class certification ruling.

The settlements have since been preliminarily approved and are scheduled for a final fairness hearing on October 9, 2015.