Consumers too far down distribution chain to press price fixing class action vs steelmakers, says judge

March 13, 2017 By Dan Churney
Cook County Record

A group of steel makers, led by Chicago-based ArcelorMittal USA, have beaten down a class-action antitrust lawsuit filed by more than a dozen consumers, who alleged the companies schemed to raise prices for goods made with steel, by pointing out the consumers were too far down the distribution line from the steel manufacturers to claim losses. 

However, the same steel mills have agreed in the past two years to pay almost $200 million in settlements in a similar class action brought by businesses that purchased steel directly from the mills. 

On March 3 in federal court in Chicago, U.S. District Judge Manish Shah dismissed an action forged in 2008 by Michigan-based Supreme Auto Transport, which 15 other parties joined eight years later. Plaintiffs described themselves as indirect buyers of steel consumer products, such as cars, ovens, lawn mowers, dishwashers and refrigerators. 

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