Auto Parts Purchasers Secure Cert. in Price-Fixing Suit

From Law 360

By Bonnie Eslinger

A Wisconsin judge on Friday certified a class of direct purchasers in a price-fixing suit against Jui Li Enterprise and other auto parts makers, saying the hundreds of class members would have difficulty litigating individually against the Taiwanese defendants and the costs would be preclusive.

In his 29-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman also said while some individual issues may complicate the manageability of the case, the common issues of the direct purchaser plaintiffs sufficiently predominate, so “a class action is the superior method of litigation.”

The antitrust litigation under the Sherman Act stretches back to 2009, when Jui Li Enterprise Company Ltd. and others were first accused of illegally conspiring to inflate the prices of aftermarket automotive sheet metal parts, which are used for hoods, doors and fenders. Jui Li and some horizontal competitors are accused of meeting, beginning in 2003, to devise a method of artificially inflating or maintaining prices for those automotive parts.

In his Friday ruling, Judge Adelman brushed aside Jui Li’s evidentiary objections to certain documents on which the direct purchasers relied to support their motion for class certification, including documents produced by defendants in the case who have already settled, which Jui Li argued were hearsay. The judge said the defendants cited no authority in support of their claim that evidence submitted in support of class certification must first be found admissible prior to class certification.

The direct purchaser plaintiffs are represented by Jason S. Hartley of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP, Vincent J. Esades and Jessica N. Servais of Heins Mills & Olson PLC, and K. Scott Wagner of Hale & Wagner SC.

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