Dow Asks Court to Erase $400 Million Urethane Verdict

Dow Chemical Co. asked a federal court in Kansas to throw out a $400 million antitrust jury verdict, contending there was no evidence to support a claim that the company conspired to fix urethane product prices.

The verdict, awarded last month, is subject to tripling to $1.2 billion under U.S. antitrust law. The plaintiffs, buyers of urethane-derived products, sued as a class, claiming Dow conspired with other companies beginning in 1999.

Dow also asked U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum to decertify the class of urethane purchasers, arguing that the members didn’t prove they had suffered the same injury. This meant the plaintiffs didn’t meet the “commonality” requirement for class actions, Dow said.

“Based upon the evidence plaintiffs presented and the jury’s verdict, no reasonable jury could have found impact and damages,” Dow said in a filing with the Kansas City court yesterday. According to the plaintiffs’ witness, “some class members were not injured at all,” the company said.

Joseph Goldberg, a plaintiffs’ attorney, didn’t immediately return a call for comment on the filing.

The case started in 2005 with allegations that Dow plotted with BASF SE, Huntsman International LLC and Lyondell Chemical Co. in violation of federal law. Only Midland, Michigan-based Dow didn’t settle.

Claims from before November 2000 were rejected by the jury.

Cars, Appliances

At the heart of the suit were urethane-based products used in the automotive, construction, appliance and furniture industries. Dow denied the price-fixing allegations, maintaining there were legitimate business reasons for the evidence the plaintiffs cited as proof of their claims.

Dow, BASF, Huntsman and Lyondell were first sued in federal court in New Jersey. The case was transferred to a multidistrict docket in Kansas City as part of litigation involving more than 60 plaintiffs, some of whom later opted out of the group litigation.

The case is In re Urethane Antitrust Litigation, 04-md-1616, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas (Kansas City).

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