On May 15 a federal district court judge trebled a $400 million verdict in a class action in which customers had alleged that The Dow Chemical Company fixed prices for the chemical urethane. The $1.2 billion award, by U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum in Kansas City, Kansas, was by far the largest this year as of press time; the runner-up may be a $524 million verdict in April against a Nevada insurance company accused of failing to supervise the doctor at the center of a hepatitis C outbreak.
The plaintiff class of direct purchasers, led by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll; Fine, Kaplan and Black; Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward; and Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, also defeated Dow's bid to decertify the class. Dow, looking to David Bernick at Boies, Schiller & Flexner and Hamilton Loeb at Paul Hastings, tried to make use of a March 27 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend. In that decision, the justices refused to certify a class of Comcast subscribers who alleged anticompetitive pricing by the company. The court ruled that the plaintiffs' expert witness—the same expert witness used by the Dow plaintiffs—failed to show that damages could be proved on a classwide basis.
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