Air India and Air New Zealand Potentially On Hook for Damages Caused by Global Conspiracy
NEW YORK, NY—February 5, 2016—Robins Kaplan LLP announced today settlements totaling $150 million with half of the remaining defendants in long-running antitrust litigation originally brought against nearly three dozen providers of air cargo services. The settlements with corporate entities from Air China (Air China Limited and Air China Cargo Company Limited) and Polar Air (Polar Air Cargo, LLC; Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Inc.; and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc.) bring the plaintiffs’ total recoveries in the litigation to almost $1.2 billion and leave just two defendants—Air India and Air New Zealand—to face trial in September 2016.
"We are pleased to be able to provide additional restitution to our clients and the class with these new settlements," said Hollis Salzman, co-lead counsel for the plaintiff class and co-chair of the Antitrust and Trade Regulation practice group at Robins Kaplan LLP. "After a decade of intense preparation, including taking depositions around the world and analyzing over 12 million pages of documents, we are now very much looking forward to trying our case against the final two defendants."
Filed in 2006, the litigation charges many of the world's largest airlines with participation in a global conspiracy to artificially inflate the price of air cargo shipping services. In July 2015, over vigorous objection by the then-remaining defendants, the Hon. John Gleeson certified a plaintiff class of all those who purchased shipping services directly from the defendants between January 1, 2000 and September 30, 2006. One month later, he denied the defendants' motions for summary judgment in their entirety, granted plaintiffs' motions to strike certain of the defendants' affirmative defenses, and set trial for 2016. In yet another victory for the plaintiffs, on November 3, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declined to hear an interlocutory appeal of the order granting class certification.
As a result of the court's ruling on class certification, Air India and Air New Zealand could be held liable at trial for virtually the entire amount of economic harm imposed on class members by all members of the conspiracy. The Court has acknowledged that the plaintiffs collectively possess "hundreds of thousands of claims" for anticompetitive pricing. The trial is currently scheduled to begin in September 2016.
In criminal antitrust probes running parallel to the civil case, 21 different air cargo providers have pleaded guilty and have agreed to criminal fines of more than $1.8 billion.
The civil litigation, titled In re Air Cargo Shipping Services Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1775, is pending before Judge Cogan (newly assigned to the case) and Magistrate Judge Pohorelsky in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Meegan Hollywood of Robins Kaplan LLP also represents the plaintiffs.