Mercedes-Benz Antitrust Class Action



In re Mercedez-Benz Antitrust Litigation, No. 99-1232-SLR, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
 
In September 2000, Nathan Associates’ President, John Beyer, submitted an expert report in which he concluded that an alleged price-fixing conspiracy by Mercedes-Benz USA and dealers in New York “would have impacted all members of the proposed class” and that “damages could feasibly be calculated on a class-wide basis.”
 
In February 2003, United States District Judge Alfred M. Wolin certified the class of consumers who purchased or leased new Mercedes-Benz automobiles in the New York region to pursue Sherman Act Section 1 claims of price-fixing. Plaintiffs’ counsel, Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll of Washington, D.C. and Spector, Roseman and Kodroff of Philadelphia, had alleged that Mercedes-Benz USA and accounting firm Sheft Kahn facilitated an exchange of information among dealers in the New York region. This information allegedly consisted of average and gross profit figures on an annual and monthly basis for all dealers in the region. It was also alleged that dealers were lectured at regional meetings to not compete against one another on the basis of price and that dealers whose prices and profits were lower than those of others were singled out.
 
In certifying the proposed class, Judge Wolin found that Dr. Beyer “has established a method by which he or another expert might be able to derive an analytical model to determine the existence of class-wide impact.” Judge Wolin also found that Dr. Beyer had proposed feasible methodologies for calculating class-wide damages, and commented that “it is worth noting that Dr. Beyer is the same expert who appeared in [In re Linerboard Antitrust Litigation, 305 F.3d 145 (3d Cir. 2002)], and that the Court of Appeals approved of his use of both the benchmark and multiple regression methods of analysis.”

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