Air cargo antitrust settlements totaling $1.2bn granted final approval in the US
10 / 10 / 2016
All 28 settlements, totaling more than $1.2bn, in the decade-long air cargo antitrust litigation have been granted final approval by the US courts.
US lawyers Robins Kaplan said that the last four settlements with defendants in the long-running air cargo antitrust litigation, originally brought in 2006 against more than 30 air cargo service providers, have been granted final approval by the court.
It added that cumulative settlements in the case, all of which have now been approved, surpass $1.2bn.
On October 5, Judge Brian M. Cogan of the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York approved all remaining multimillion-dollar settlements in the case, including a $100m settlement with Polar Air and a $50m settlement with Air China.
Hollis Salzman, co-lead counsel for the plaintiff class and co-chair of the Antitrust and Trade Regulation practice group at Robins Kaplan in New York said: “Since 2006, we have been honored to pursue this litigation on behalf of those impacted by the defendants’ alleged anti-competitive practices.
“We are pleased that the court granted final approval to each and every settlement obtained during this litigation, and we look forward to distributing these funds to those who suffered from this alleged collusion.”
In approving separate settlements in March, Judge Cogan praised plaintiffs’ counsel, stating: “I know the plaintiffs’ counsel by experience. They are all top-end lawyers. Judge Gleeson has recognised that in approving the prior settlement, so there is no reason to believe the class has not been well-served.”
The litigation, referred to by the court as “irrefutably complex,” charges many of the world’s largest airlines with participation in a global conspiracy to artificially inflate the price of air cargo shipping services.
The plaintiff class, represented by Robins Kaplan and co-lead counsel, alleges that the defendants’ conspiracy affected nearly every business that shipped goods to, from, and within the US since 2000.
Robins Kaplan identified “milestone events” that occurred during the litigation, including:
February 2006: Complaint filed against approximately three dozen air carrier defendants.
February 2014: Partial settlements surpass $750m.
October 2014: Magistrate recommends the certification of a direct purchaser plaintiff class.
April 2015: A $99m settlement is reached with EVA Airways, bringing total recoveries to more than $1bn.
July 2015: Court certifies a class of direct purchaser plaintiffs and appoints Robins Kaplan as class counsel.
August 2015: Court denies defendants’ motion for summary judgment, grants plaintiffs’ summary judgment motions, and sets trial for 2016.
January – February 2016: Settlements with Polar Air and Air China Ltd. are announced, leaving just two holdout defendants.
May 2016: With the trial date looming, Air India and Air New Zealand, the last two defendants, agree to settlements of $12.5m and $35m, bringing the far-reaching litigation to a successful conclusion.
In criminal antitrust probes running parallel to the civil case, 21 different air cargo providers have pleaded guilty and have agreed to criminal fines of more than $1.8bn.
Meegan Hollywood of Robins Kaplan also represents the plaintiffs.
The civil litigation, titled In re Air Cargo Shipping Services Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1775, is pending before Judge Brian M. Cogan and Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.