S&C Obtains Dismissal of Antitrust Litigation Against German Automakers

November 4, 2020

After three years of litigation, Judge Charles Breyer of the Northern District of California dismissed with prejudice S&C clients Audi AG, BMW AG and Volkswagen AG, and their American subsidiaries, from antitrust multidistrict litigation brought by putative classes of consumers and car dealers.
The cases were brought in the wake of a European Commission investigation into the five leading German automakers, with the plaintiffs alleging that the defendants had engaged in technological exchanges that limited competition to create innovative features in new cars. The defendants included BMW AG and Daimler AG, which were also dismissed from the litigation.
Judge Breyer's October 23 decision marks the third favorable ruling for the automakers in this litigation. Previously, in June 2019 and March 2020, he granted the defendants' motions to dismiss the initial and amended complaints, narrowing the scope of the litigation but giving the plaintiffs leave to replead. In ruling on the most recent amended complaints, Judge Breyer rejected the consumers' claim that agreements relating to diesel emissions systems violated the Sherman Act, finding that their effects on competition were not obviously negative. He also rejected the dealers' claim that the defendants entered into a steel buying conspiracy that raised the price they paid for steel and passed along those higher prices to customers.
The S&C team representing Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen was led by Sharon Nelles, Steven Holley, Suhana Han and Amanda Davidoff and included associate Samantha Hynes.