(Adds details from decision, comments, background, case
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK Oct 5 A federal judge on Wednesday
dismissed nationwide litigation by aluminum purchasers who
accused banks and commodity companies of conspiring to drive up
prices for the metal by reducing supply, forcing them to
The decision by U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in
Manhattan halts, for now, three years of litigation against
Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co,
mining company Glencore Plc, and various commodity
trading, mining and metals warehousing companies.
Purchasers had accused the defendants of colluding from 2009
to 2012 to manipulate prices by hoarding inventory.
They claimed that this caused delays of up to 16 months to
fill orders, leading to higher storage costs, which in turn
inflated aluminum prices and the cost of producing cabinets,
flashlights, soft drink cans, strollers and other goods.
In August, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
Manhattan upheld Forrest's dismissal two years earlier of
antitrust claims by "indirect" commercial end users and consumer
Applying that ruling, Forrest on Wednesday said related
claims by "first level" purchasers, which she allowed to go
forward in March 2015, must also be dismissed.
She said both cases rested on the same "core assertion" that
Platts Midwest Premium, a component of aluminum prices, rose
because of alleged "shenanigans" in aluminum warehouse services.
"There is no allegation or evidence in the record that
defendants engaged in any anticompetitive conduct outside of the
aluminum warehouse services market," Forrest wrote. "Profit by
defendants or losses by plaintiffs subsequently experienced in
physical aluminum is irrelevant to antitrust standing."
Lawyers for the purchasers did not immediately respond to
requests for comment. Goldman spokesman Michael DuVally and
JPMorgan spokesman Brian Marchiony said their banks were pleased
with the decision. Glencore did not immediately respond to
requests for comment.
Forrest concluded with a long footnote lamenting how a 2015
U.S. Supreme Court decision, Gelboim v. Bank of America Corp,
could impede settlements of complex litigation by letting some
plaintiffs--here, the indirect purchasers--appeal dismissals of
their claims while other plaintiffs press on.
"In this case, the opposite has occurred," she wrote. "A
'Gelboim Appeal' has caused a case nearing final procedural
stages to come to a halt. Perhaps this is the most just result.
But plaintiffs will undoubtedly appeal--and if successful, the
parties will be picking up where they left off two years hence."
The case is In re: Aluminum Warehousing Antitrust
Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York,
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernard
Orr and David Gregorio)