IN RE: KOREAN RAMEN ANTITRUST LITIGATION: A PANEL DISCUSSION WITH TRIAL COUNSEL
By Jill M. Manning1
This antitrust class action alleged a price-fixing conspiracy in Korea that raised the price of ramen noodles manufactured and sold in Korea. Plaintiffs, direct purchasers and indirect purchasers, alleged that the elevated prices in Korea had an impact on the prices of ramen noodles sold in the United States. Judge William H. Orrick certified the classes and denied summary judgment, stating, "there is ample, although hotly disputed, evidence of a conspiracy by the defendants to fix the price of Korean ramen in Korea that was fraudulently concealed from consumers."
After a five-week trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants, answering only the first question on the verdict form: "Did Plaintiffs prove there was a conspiracy to fix the prices of Korean ramen noodles? No." How did the case progress from a court stating that there was ample evidence of conspiracy to a jury finding no conspiracy? From the reversal of fines levied by the Korean Fair Trade Commission to the exclusion of testimony from the plaintiffs’ key witness, this case involved unique issues, twists and turns, and a few lighthearted moments. You will have to continue reading to find out more.