On Monday, January 25, 2016, a Garvey Schubert Barer ("GSB") team comprising Benjamin Lambiotte, Paul Hoff, Sean Griffin and Leo Peng, was victorious in its representation of Bosai Minerals Group., Ltd. ("Bosai") and CMP Tianjin Co., Ltd. ("CMP"), defeating antitrust claims from putative class representative Resco Products Inc. ("Resco") that the firm's clients conspired to fix prices and limit the supply of refractory grade bauxite exported from China into the U.S. from 2003 to 2009. Refractory grade bauxite is used to manufacture linings of high-temperature furnaces, vessels and reactors.
In 2009, GSB succeeded in vacating defaults against its clients and class certification because its clients had not been properly served with process in the case, styled Resco Products Inc. v. Bosai Minerals Group Co. Ltd. et al. This week, the court granted GSB’s motion for summary judgment. Chief U.S. Judge Joy Flowers Conti of the Western District of Pennsylvania, in a well-reasoned thorough 30-page opinion, ruled that the record contained no evidence upon which a reasonable juror could find a private price-fixing or output restriction conspiracy among Chinese refractory grade bauxite exporters (who were members of the Bauxite Branch of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters at Branch meetings), as alleged by plaintiff.
After reviewing voluminous documentary evidence and deposition testimony, and considering legal points marshalled by the GSB team, Chief Judge Conti concluded that the Ministry of Foreign Commerce of the Government of China established and implemented export quotas, after polling Branch members at meetings for their opinions on what the amounts and export license fees for the quotas should be. The Court concluded that the evidence established that the Chinese Government, not the Branch members, set the export quotas and license fees, that there was no direct evidence of a conspiratorial agreement among exporters, that the plaintiff failed to point to evidence from which such an agreement could reasonably be inferred, and that the defendants advanced ample proof of market forces and governmental actions explaining why they increased export prices for the commodity over the relevant period.
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