Court Grants Motion to Compel Guardian to Turn Over Documents in Anti-Trust Suit
August 10, 2009
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
has granted the plaintiffs' motion to compel Guardian Industries
to produce several documents that were reviewed during the European
Commission's (EC) price-fixing investigation. In the suit, the plaintiffs,
which include a range of glass shops across the United States, allege
that several glass manufacturers engaged in a conspiracy to fix
HERE for related story.)
Guardian had objected to the motion, "arguing that the requests
are overly broad, unreasonably burdensome and violative of principles
of international comity," according to the court's opinion,
released July 29.
The memo granting the motion, authored by Chief District Judge Donetta
Ambrose, notes that "courts have traditionally taken a liberal
view of relevance in determining the scope of discovery" in
"I agree that liberal discovery is necessary in an alleged
antitrust conspiracy case where the alleged wrongdoing is generally
covert," writes Ambrose. "I further agree with the Class
Plaintiffs that the documents sought could be relevant to motive
and opportunity for defendants to conspire in the United States,
the scope and nature of such conspiracy and how defendants may have
concealed any unlawful activities. Further, these documents may
assist Class Plaintiffs in identifying witnesses for their case."
Ambrose also writes that while producing the documents could be
a "substantial burden" to Guardian, because the documents
are within the scope of the allegations, and because the class plaintiffs
have alleged a link between the EC investigation, the EC cartel
and "the alleged [U.S.] cartel, that is a burden that must
A deadline for the production of the documents will be set at a
meeting between the plaintiffs and Guardian, which is one of several
defendants in the case, according to court documents.
In November 2007, the EC had levied fines against Guardian Industries,
Pilkington, Saint-Gobain and AGC Flat Glass Europe for alleged price-fixing
practices in the European flat glass market (CLICK
HERE for related story.) In November 2008, further fines were
imposed on Asahi, Pilkington, Saint-Gobain and Soliver for illegal
market sharing and exchange of information regarding deliveries
of auto glass in the European Economic Area (CLICK
HERE for related story).
Plaintiffs include a list of glass companies, including both auto
and flat, throughout the United States. (CLICK
HERE for related story, including a full list of plaintiffs.)
In addition to Guardian, among the other defendants are Pilkington
North America and PPG Industries. Plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers
agreed to raise and fix prices "through a combination of collusive
energy surcharges and price increases."
The manufacturers previously had motioned for the judge to dismiss
the suit. That motion was denied in February.
HERE for full text of the order compelling Guardian to produce
the EC documents.
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