SO YOUR SUPPLIERS CONSPIRED AGAINST YOU: AN ANTITRUST CLASS ACTION OPT-OUT PRIMER
By Paula Blizzard, Justina Sessions, and Daniel Gordon1
You’ve just learned that one of your company’s suppliers has pled guilty to an antitrust violation. A quick internet search reveals that international government antitrust authorities raided several suppliers a few months ago. And hot on the heels of the guilty pleas, a series of civil class action suits are filed against your supplier and others. The class actions may already have been consolidated into a Multi-District Litigation ("MDL"), or consolidation may be imminent. At first it may be difficult to believe. How could trusted and long-term suppliers conspire against a major customer? It may be hard to grasp, but the reality is that it happens. If there have been guilty pleas, then almost certainly your company has been overcharged for products. The question is: what to do about it?
Large companies are generally far more used to being defendants than plaintiffs, and figuring out how to proceed as an antitrust victim can be unchartered territory. At the outset, the company’s options and avenues for recovery must be assessed and preserved. One of the most important decisions may be whether and when to opt out of civil class action lawsuits. Large purchasers often opt out of antitrust class actions in favor of pursuing individual recovery. Those who have taken their individual claims to trial have achieved mixed results. Far more commonly, large purchasers pursue their own private resolution with antitrust defendants.