US: Scalia’s death prompts Dow to settle suits for $835 million

Dow Chemical said it agreed to pay $835 million to settle an antitrust case that was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death earlier this month.

Dow, the largest US chemical maker by sales, said Friday the accord will resolve its challenges to a $1.06 billion award to purchasers of compounds for urethanes, chemicals used to make foam upholstery for furniture and plastic walls in refrigerators.

The Midland, Michigan-based company disputed a jury’s finding it had conspired with four other chemical makers to fix urethane prices and asked the Supreme Court to take the class- action case on appeal. Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative members, had voted to scale back the reach of such group suits.

“Growing political uncertainties due to recent events with the Supreme Court and increased likelihood for unfavorable outcomes for business involved in class-action suits have changed Dow’s risk assessment of the situation,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

Scalia’s death is likely to make it harder for companies to get the five votes they need to overturn awards or get new restrictions on class actions. He had been a key voice for companies in challenging group suits at the Supreme Court. Scalia wrote the 5-4 ruling in 2011 that said Wal-Mart Stores Inc. couldn’t be sued by potentially a million female workers. Two years later, Scalia was the author of a 5-4 ruling that freed Comcast Corp. from having to defend against an $875 million antitrust lawsuit on behalf of Philadelphia-area customers.

Full content: Reuters

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