Antitrust Law Daily Attorney fees awarded for latest settlements in auto parts price fixing class action
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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Attorney fees awarded for latest settlements in auto parts price fixing class action

By Nicole D. Prysby, J.D.

The court awarded $40 million in attorney fees for the Round 4 settlements in a class action alleging price fixing for automotive parts.

The federal district court in Detroit, Michigan awarded $40 million in attorney fees and $565,000 in incentive awards for the latest round of settlements in a class action alleging an unlawful conspiracy to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate markets and customers for automotive parts. Multiple settlements have been reached in the case, resulting in a total recovery to date of more than $1 billion. The Round 4 Settlements collectively totaled $183,958,000. The court awarded attorney fees of 22 percent of the Round 4 Settlements, or $40,470,760. 22 percent of the fund approach was preferred and reasonable, served the strong public policy of holding accountable those who violate the antitrust laws, and promoted fair competition and honest pricing. The court also awarded $565,000 in incentive awards to 59 named class representatives (In re Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation, September 23, 2020, Cox, S.).

In this long running antitrust case, End-Payor Plaintiffs (EPPs) alleged that they were injured as a result of the defendants participation in an unlawful conspiracy to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate markets and customers for automotive parts, in violation of the Sherman Act and various state laws. Multiple settlements have been reached in the case, resulting in a total recovery to date of more than $1 billion. Following the latest round of settlements (Round 4), EPPs filed a motion for attorney fees and incentive awards. The Round 4 Settlements collectively totaled $183,958,000.

The court awarded attorney fees of 22 percent of the Round 4 Settlement, or $40,470,760. There were no objections to the fee request. The court found the percentage of the fund approach was preferred and that the requested percentage was reasonable. Interim fee awards of 20 percent, 20 percent, and 25 percent were made for the first three rounds of settlements. The substantial recoveries for Round Four served the strong public policy of holding accountable those who violate the antitrust laws, thereby promoting fair competition and honest pricing. The legal and factual issues in the case are complex and the settlements were the results of arm’s length negotiations conducted in good faith. The hourly rates are reasonable and justified. Using the lodestar/multiplier cross-check methodology and reviewing the total fees awarded against the lodestar, the 22 percent fee awarded results in an overall lodestar/multiplier of 1.74. Such a multiplier is well within, if not substantially below, the range of reasonable multipliers awarded in similar contingent fee cases.

The court also awarded $565,000 in incentive awards to 59 named class representatives. Five individuals received $5,000 each and 54 individuals received $10,000 each. The incentive awards were reasonable, based on the fact that the class representatives provided discovery and assistance in as many as 41 cases, including supplying personal records and providing interrogatories and deposition testimony.

This case is No. 2:13-cv-02703-SFC-RSW.

Attorneys: Anna M. Horning Nygren (Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P.) and Craig W. Hillwig (Kohn, Swift & Graf, PC) for Air Conditioning System - End-Payor Actions. E. Powell Miller (Miller Law Firm) for Ifeoma Adams, Melissa Barron and Tenisha Burgos. Brian Byrne (Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP) and Brian M. Moore (Dykema Gossett) for Valeo S.A. Benjamin F. Holt (Hogan Lovells US LLP) for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Corey W. Roush (Hogan Lovells) for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Climate Control, Inc. A. Paul Victor (Winston & Strawn LLP) for Panasonic Corp. and Panasonic Corp. of North America.

Companies: Air Conditioning System - End-Payor Actions; Valeo S.A.; Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.; Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Climate Control, Inc.; Panasonic Corp.; Panasonic Corp. of North America

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust MichiganNews GCNNews

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