JPML transfers cast iron sewer pipe antitrust class actions to Tennessee

Posted on: April 11th, 2014 by Steve Larson

Law and justice concept, gavelThe U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation agreed to consolidate in Tennessee federal court a number of proposed class actions accusing AB&I Foundry and other sellers of cast iron soil pipe and fittings of conspiring to artificially inflate prices.   As many as eight actions filed by plumbing wholesalers and other plaintiffs will be combined and heard by Judge Harry S. Mattice Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the panel said in a three-page order.

Each suit alleges that AB&I Foundry, its parent company McWane Inc., and fellow pipe industry leaders Tyler Pipe Co., Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Co., and Randolph Holding Co. LLC violated antitrust laws by intentionally manipulating the price of their products since 2006 — which the panel said was sufficient common ground to allow for consolidation.

All parties supported centralizing the actions, according to the order, but disagreed as to the appropriate venue for the consolidated proceedings. Both defendants and plaintiffs in the already filed suits requested a trial in California, while the defendants and plaintiffs mulling tag-along actions asked for it to be held in their home districts around the Southeast.

The panel said any of the courts would be appropriate, but chose the Eastern District of Tennessee because it was central to a majority of the parties’ respective headquarters.

“The record indicates that the center of gravity of this litigation is in the Southeast, which is where defendants and their trade association have their principal places of business. Thus, the primary witnesses and documentary evidence likely will be located in this region,” the order said.

The consolidated case is In re: Cast Iron Soil Pipe and Fittings Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2508, in the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.