Allegations That Domestic Steel Producers Violated Section 1 Of The Sherman Act Through Reciprocal Calls For "Production Discipline" And Output Reduction Constitute "Plus Factors", .........

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Standard Iron Works v. Arcelormittal, N.D. ILL., No. 08 C 5214, June 12, 2009

Plaintiff Standard Iron Works ("Standard") commenced a class action against domestic steel producers, as a direct purchaser of steel products. Standard alleged a multi-year antitrust conspiracy to enhance price levels by the coordinated reduction of industry output of steel products in the United States. According to the complaint, each defendant implemented, and pre-announced, coordinated production cuts through express communications at numerous trade association meetings. The complaint alleged that the statements were made for the express purpose of coordinating production cuts for the purpose of raising the price of steel products. To circumvent the application of Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007), plaintiffs alleged that the trade association statements of the need for "discipline" constituted "plus factors" or the "something more" required as "facilitating practices" to transform “interdependent” behavior within a concentrated, fungible product industry into an actionable Sherman 1 violation. See, e.g., Monsanto Co. v. Spray-Rite Serv. Corp., 465 U.S. 752, 768 (1984) and Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574 (1986).

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