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January 2015: Major Victories and Settlements in Foam Antitrust Case

January 2015

Quinn Emanuel, as court-appointed co-lead counsel for companies that directly purchase flexible polyurethane foam and allege that major foam manufacturers conspired to fix prices, in 2014 won certification of a nationwide class, defeated the defendants’ effort to appeal the class certification ruling, and secured approximately $148 million in settlements from two of the defendant foam manufacturers.

Flexible polyurethane foam is a product widely used in furniture, bedding, automobiles and carpet underlay. Direct purchasers of polyurethane foam have alleged that the major foam manufacturers colluded for at least a decade to raise prices above competitive levels, in particular by illegally coordinating price increase announcements. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated various cases before Judge Jack Zouhary of the United States District Court in Toledo, Ohio.

Earlier this year, after briefing, expert reports and an evidentiary hearing with live testimony by the parties’ respective experts, Judge Zouhary certified a national class of direct purchaser plaintiffs. The defendants promptly filed a motion with the federal appeals court in Detroit, Michigan, seeking leave to appeal the grant of class certification. Quinn Emanuel, also serving as co-lead counsel in the appeal, defeated that motion, with a 3-judge appeals court panel unanimously finding that the defendants’ had not identified any ground for permitting the appeal.

On behalf of the direct purchaser class, the firm was able to secure two settlements this year: one for $108 million with defendants Carpenter Co., E.R. Carpenter, L.P. and Carpenter Holdings, Inc.; and one for $39.8 million with defendant Leggett & Platt, Incorporated. Earlier in the case, the class secured a settlement for $9 million to $15 million (depending on certain contingencies) with defendant Vitafoam, which had cooperated with government investigations of the alleged collusion and had less than 1% market share during the relevant period. All of the settlements to date have thus totaled approximately $160 million.

Six non-settling defendants remain in the litigation, which is scheduled for trial on March 31, 2015. A hearing on the defendants’ pending motions for summary judgment will be held before Judge Zouhary on January 15, 2015.