A panel of federal judges said they will hear argument Dec. 5 on whether to consolidate more than a dozen lawsuits accusing a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS:US) and other entities of tying up U.S. aluminum supplies to drive up prices.
The panel will be asked to consider combining the cases for pretrial proceedings before a federal judge in Detroit, where the first antitrust complaint against Goldman Sachs, its Metro International Trade Services LLC warehousing business and the London Metal Exchange was filed on Aug. 1.
About 16 similar cases are pending in Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Tallahassee, Florida.
While the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is based in Washington, argument will be heard at the U.S. courthouse in Las Vegas, according to a scheduling order issued today.
“All plaintiffs seek treble damages on behalf of a nationwide class of aluminum purchasers under federal law,” Superior Extrusion Inc., the original plaintiff, said in its Aug. 7 filing seeking consolidation.
Goldman Sachs and the London Metal Exchange allegedly restrained about 1.5 million tons of aluminum in Detroit warehouses, causing delivery delays of as long as 16 months, according to Superior’s complaint.
Buyers sustained damages in the form of inflated prices, the company said. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM:US) and Glencore Xstrata Plc (GLEN) were named as defendants in the Florida complaint.
Michael DuVally, a spokesman for New York-based Goldman Sachs, has said the cases are without merit. LME has said it plans to ease warehouse congestion, accelerate deliveries and reduce premiums.
“The center of gravity of this case is in Detroit, where the illegal conduct was focused, and where key parties and witnesses reside and do business,” said Gwinn, Michigan-based Superior, an aluminum products company.
Consolidation would reduce duplication of depositions and document production, while avoiding conflicting pretrial rulings, Superior said.
While 11 of the cases were filed in Detroit, competing claims have been made to centralize the litigation elsewhere.
Goldman Sachs is pushing for New York, with Detroit as its second choice. LME, a defendant in about a dozen of the cases, consents to New York while opposing Detroit.
Mag Instrument Inc., the utility-flashlight maker that sued in Los Angeles, wants the cases be dealt with there, citing the presence of warehouses and some defendants’ corporate offices.
The case is In re Aluminum Warehousing Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2481, Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (Washington).
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