Philadelphia, PA, September 1, 2010 — Attorneys from Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC secured another significant class action victory. Yesterday, August 31, 2010, a federal district court in Philadelphia denied a plaintiff motion for class certification in In re Plastics Additives Antitrust Litigation. The 40-page decision comes roughly four years after the same court initially granted class certification, but that ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit following its landmark class certification decision in In re Hydrogen Peroxide Antitrust Decision.

After the initial certification was overturned on appeal, the Plastics Additives plaintiffs sought certification of two classes: purchasers of organotin heat stabilizers and expoxidized soybean oil, respectively, between January 1, 1990 and January 31, 2003. Taking direction from the Hydrogen Peroxide decision, the district court undertook a serious inquiry into the evidence as to the suitability of those classes for certification. The court accepted extensive additional written submissions and presided over a three-day class certification hearing, at which both sides presented evidence, including the live testimony of experts.

In its opinion denying class certification as to both classes, the court agreed with defendants that the plaintiffs had failed to meet their burden to show that the element of antitrust injury (or “impact”) is capable of proof through evidence common to the class. In particular, the court found that the plaintiffs’ expert’s descriptions of the market characteristics of the organotin stabilizer and ESBO industries were simply inaccurate and therefore incapable of being used to prove impact. The many products at issue were not interchangeable, the court found, and purchasers were free to negotiate lower prices from defendant and non-defendant producers. The plaintiffs’ expert’s reliance on customer pricing was also inadequate to prove impact across the class, because individual pricing frequently bore no relationship to “list” prices or price increase announcements, and generally did not move “similarly” over time. Finally, the court agreed with defendants that the plaintiffs’ expert’s proffered regression analyses were incapable of proving impact for class members because the analyses “tell us nothing about individual class member experiences.”

The opinion will likely be looked at as a guidepost for future courts seeking to apply the teachings of Hydrogen Peroxide at the district court level. 

Howard D. Scher and Thomas P. Manning of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC in Philadelphia represented a defendant producer of plastics additives in both the District Court and the Court of Appeals. The case is captioned In re Plastics Additives Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 03-CV-2038 (E.D. Pa.). As noted, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney attorneys also represented the successful appellants in Hydrogen Peroxide.