Updated December 18, 2020
In a seven-year-old antitrust case sparked by a front-page article in the New York Times, S&C won a ruling denying class certification in an action against Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and others, alleging an antitrust conspiracy in the aluminum market. On July 23, Judge Paul Engelmayer of the Southern District of New York held in In re Aluminum Warehousing Antitrust Litigation that the case brought by industrial users of aluminum presented too many individualized issues to support class certification.
With only ten individual plaintiffs remaining in the case, the ruling eliminates potentially billions of dollars in class-wide damages. S&C also represented Goldman Sachs’s former warehouse affiliate.
This ruling provides guidance on whether plaintiffs may show common impact supporting class certification through emails, documents and other qualitative evidence, instead of quantitative expert analysis. Judge Engelmayer ruled that such qualitative evidence was “far too imprecise, indiscriminate, and disconnected from reliable factual moorings to reliably establish the economically complex proposition necessary for class certification: that all purchasers at all times throughout the lengthy class period were injured.”
Judge Engelmayer also held that the plaintiffs’ expert analysis was flawed and did not isolate the effects of the conspiracy from market forces or regulatory changes. In addition, he noted that defendants had raised substantial challenges to the adequacy of lead plaintiffs and that some potential class members may have realized a net benefit from the alleged anticompetitive conduct.
In December 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declined to permit plaintiffs to appeal Judge Engelmayer’s order.
The ruling ends all class action claims against the defendants in this long-running multidistrict litigation regarding aluminum. Earlier, defendants persuaded the court to dismiss two sets of proposed indirect purchaser class actions based on the same allegations.
Goldman Sachs and its former warehouse affiliate were represented by Richard Pepperman, Suhana Han and William Wagener.