Elevator Makers Lose Bid to Block Victim Access to Cartel Files
ThyssenKrupp AG, Kone Oyj (KNEBV) and United Technologies Corp.’s Otis unit, fined by the European Union in 2007 for fixing prices, lost a bid to block construction companies from gaining access to regulators’ files for lawsuits in Germany.
Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court rejected a bid to block prosecutors from disclosing material gathered by national and European regulators to a Berlin court hearing a civil complaint over the issue.
“Damage suits help to efficiently combat cartels,” the nation’s highest court said in the ruling published today. The trial court also “has to heed the privacy interest of the companies when balancing the interests” to “decide whether the information can be used in the suit.”
The European Commission fined five companies 992.3 million euros ($1.4 billion) for fixing prices for elevators. While ThyssenKrupp in 2011 won a ruling cutting its 479.7 million-euro fine, the biggest in the cartel, Otis and Kone lost their respective challenges.
Construction companies in 2010 sued the three seeking to be compensated for losses they say the cartel caused.
Ruediger Harms, a lawyer for Otis, said the top court ruling won’t end efforts to exclude the documents.
“Nothing is lost yet, the trial court now has to decide whether the files must be kept closed,” Harms said.
Stefan Ettwig, a spokesman for Essen, Germany-based ThyssenKrupp, said the company acknowledged the decision and wouldn’t comment further. Kone’s lawyer, Marc Besen, declined to comment.
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