In re Fasteners Antitrust Litigation, PICS Case No. 14-0114 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 24, 2014) Surrick, J. (37 pages).

U.S. DISTRICT COURT - EASTERN

The Legal Intelligencer

ANTITRUST

Price Fixing • Class Action • Approval of Settlement

In re Fasteners Antitrust Litigation, PICS Case No. 14-0114 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 24, 2014) Surrick, J. (37 pages).

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted plaintiffs' motion for approval of proposed settlements and the proposed plan for distribution of settlement funds in this antitrust matter.

This case involved multi-district litigation with four groups of corporate defendants who manufactured and marketed fasteners such as zippers, snap fasteners, buttons, hooks and similar products used primarily in the textiles, apparel, footwear, and luggage industries. Defendants allegedly engaged in a global conspiracy to fix prices and allocate customers and markets for fasteners in the United States and worldwide. Plaintiffs brought this class action on behalf of themselves and others who purchased fasteners in the United States from defendants between January 1, 1991, and September 18, 2007.

Following an order granting preliminary approval of the proposed settlement, notice was sent to potential settlement class members, published in the Wall Street Journal, and posted on a website set up for the class action matter. No objections were filed by any potential settlement class members, and only one opted out. The proposed settlement required defendants to make payments totaling $17.55 million.

To approve a class action settlement, a court must determine it is fair, adequate and reasonable. In doing so, courts should not substitute the parties' assurances or conclusory statements for an independent analysis of the settlement terms.

The court found the proposed settlement class satisfied the class certification requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a), because the class was believed to include thousands of members with common claims and the representative parties were found to be typical.

The proposed settlement was fair and reasonable. Continued litigation would involve significant expense. The reaction of the class to the proposed settlement was overwhelmingly positive. Over 32,000 copies of the settlement notice were sent out to potential class members and not a single objection was filed. Although formal discovery had not taken place, the parties began engaging in settlement negotiations shortly after the case was commenced. They exchanged significant information during the settlement process, enabling the parties to make an informed decision about the merits of the case. The court held the settlement terms were reasonable in light of the risks associated with proceeding to trial. Because no objections were made to the procedures or settlement amount, the court held the amount to be adequate.

Legal fees were to be paid out of the settlement fund as provided by the terms of the settlement.