Case Highlights

2016 Legal 500 US' Recognizes Heins Mills & Olson as a Top-Tier Firm for Antitrust Class Actions

The Legal 500 US, which ranks "the best of the best" law firms in the country based on comments from clients and peers, again placed Heins Mills on its list of the leading firms in antitrust class action litigation. As previously noted by Legal 500, "Heins Mills & Olson, PLC is highly regarded for its 'aggressive' stance and 'unfettered commitment to representation of the plaintiff's bar.'"

Working to Ensure Competitive Markets and Fair Trade Practices

In the arena of antitrust litigation, Heins Mills has served as lead or co-lead counseling dozens of cases representing plaintiff classes alleging price fixing, vertical trade restraints, monopolization and other anticompetitive conduct in diverse markets. We are currently serving as class counsel in antitrust cases venued in state and federal courts throughout the United States. Although our role varies, our contributions are always valuable. In some cases we serve in a court-appointed leadership capacity; in others we contribute as members of a court-approved executive committee or in a supportive role for the lead law firms.

Current Leadership Roles

We are currently serving in a leadership role in the following cases:

  • Lipitor Antitrust Litigation On August 21, 2017, the Third Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of the complaint in the Lipitor litigation, where Heins Mills is one of the co-lead counsel for the class. In doing so, the Third Circuit rejected the heightened pleading standard applied by the district court to plaintiffs’ claim that Lipitor’s brand manufacturer, Pfizer, made an anticompetitive "reverse payment" to a competitor in exchange for delaying introduction of a generic equivalent. The district court would have required plaintiffs to plead that the reverse payment was "large" (in accordance with the Supreme Court’s holding in Actavis) by alleging details about the value of the competitor’s agreement to abandon a lawsuit challenging Pfizer’s patent for a different drug as part of the parties’ settlement. The Third Circuit held that a complaint need not include a detailed economic analysis to plausibly allege a large reverse payment other than cash. A copy of the opinion is here. The Third Circuit remanded the case to the district for further proceedings, so we’ll now be moving the litigation forward with all deliberate speed.
  • In re Lidoderm Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2521 (N.D. Cal.). We serve as co-lead counsel in this action and represent end-payor plaintiffs and a nationwide class of end-payors seeking damages arising out of an alleged anticompetitive scheme to delay the availability of a generic version of the lidocaine patch Lidoderm. In November 2013, the court denied in central part the defendants' motion to dismiss the claims, finding that the complaint adequately alleges a large, unjustified payment to the generic manufacturers to stay off the market. On February 21, 2017, the court certified the class of end payors, and trial is currently scheduled to beign on December 4, 2017.

    Further informaion about the case, including court-approved notice to the class, can be found at the case website here.
  • In re Aggrenox Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2516 (D. Conn.). We serve as co-lead counsel in this litigation and represent end-payor plaintiffs and a proposed nationwide class of end-payors in this lawsuit alleging defendants took anticompetitive steps to delay generic competition for Aggrenox, including a pay-for-delay settlement to delay entry of a generic version. Defendants' motion to dismiss is pending.
  • In re Lipitor Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2332 (D.N.J.). We serve as co-lead counsel for the proposed end-payor class (consumers and health plan sponsors) in which alleges that drug manufacturers violated state antitrust and consumer laws by engaging in anticompetitive conduct to delay the entry of a generic version of Lipitor, resulting in significant overcharges to plaintiffs. On October 31, 2014, the district court granted defendants' motions to dismiss, deciding that plaintiffs had not satisfied a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing antitrust challenges to pay-for-delay agreements, directing the parties to mediation and temporarily staying the case. The end-payor plaintiffs and direct-purchaser plaintiffs have appealed the district court's decision to the Third Circuit.
  • Glaberson (formerly Behrend) v. Comcast Corp., CaseNo. 03-cv-6604 (E.D. Pa.). We continue to serve as co-lead counsel in this long-running antitrust case alleging that Comcast allocated cable television markets and customers in restraint of trade and monopolized the Philadelphia area market for these services. After the court denied Comcast's summary judgment motion, the United States Supreme Court reversed a decision certifying the Philadelphia-area class. The trial court granted our request to proceed with a motion to certify a revised class in accordance with the Supreme Court's opinion. On December 12, 2014, the court certified the settlement class and preliminarily approved a settlement providing for $50 million in cash, bill credits or free services to settlement class members.
  • Fond du Lac Bumper Exchange, Inc., et al. v. Jui Li Enterprise Co., et al., (Aftermarket Sheet Metal Antitrust Litigation), Case No. 2:09-cv-00852 (E.D. Wis.).We are serving as co-lead counsel a class action asserting price-fixing claims on behalf of business purchasers of aftermarket automotive sheet metal parts.
  • Fiber Optic Cable Litigation (multiple state and federal courts). We serve as co-lead counsel in multi-state litigation against major telecommunications companies and utilities to vindicate the rights of landowners whose property was used for the installation of fiber optic cable without compensation. In that capacity we participated in fashioning an innovative global settlement that comprises separate agreements on a state-by-state basis. Recent settlements together exceed $61 million, bringing the total number of state settlements to 38.

Other Litigation Roles

We also play important roles in the following cases:

  • In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation,Case No. 4:09-cv-1967 (N.D. Cal.). We have been extensively involved in prosecuting this class action brought on behalf of current and former U.S. collegiate student-athletes alleging that they should receive a share of the revenue generated from use of their likenesses (e.g., use of their image as a video game avatar). The court certified the class for injunctive relief and in August 2014, after a trial in which we were integrally involved, court found that the NCAA's rules prohibiting compensation for likeness use is an antitrust violation. In a landmark decision, the court issued a permanent injunction against these rules. Before this result, in September 2013, a $40 million settlement was reached with the two other defendants, Electronic Arts Inc. and Collegiate License Company.
  • In re American Express Anti-Steering Rules Antitrust Litigation, 11 MD 2221 (E.D.N.Y.). Vince Esades is one of three members of the executive committee appointed as part of the new leadership structure in this nationwide class action challenging American Express rules that prevent merchants from providing consumers with incentives to use forms of payment that are less expensive than American Express branded payment cards.
  • In re Publication Paper Antitrust Litigation,MDL No. 1631 (D. Conn.). We are a member of the Class Counsel Executive Committee leading this nationwide antitrust action alleging an unlawful conspiracy by manufacturers to fix the price of publication paper.
  • In re Pool Products Distribution Market Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2328 (E.D. La.). We are a member of the plaintiffs' steering committee in this class action asserting claims of monopolization and attempted monopolization of the U.S. pool products distribution market. The court preliminarily approved a $6.5 million settlement with one of the manufacturers on September 26, 2014, and a $3.45 million settlement with another manufacturer on December 22, 2014.
  • In re Suboxone (Buprenorphine Hydrochloride and Naloxone) Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2445 (E.D. Pa.). We serve as a member of the court-appointed executive committee representing the proposed end-payor class in this action alleging defendant brand drug manufacturer used anticompetitive practices to improperly maintain its monopoly in the market for Suboxone and to prevent substitution of less-expensive generics. Defendants' motion to dismiss was denied on December 3, 2014, and discovery is now proceeding.
  • In re Aluminum Warehousing Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2481 (S.D.N.Y.). We were appointed to the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee in this class action alleging a conspiracy to inflate aluminum prices and restrain aluminum supplies. Defendants' motion to dismiss is pending.
  • In re Niaspan Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2460 (E.D. Pa.). We also serve on the executive committee for the proposed end-payor class in this action alleging defendants entered into unlawful pay-for-delay agreements relating to the brand-name prescription drug Niaspan. Defendants' motion to dismiss was denied on November 8, 2014, and discovery is underway.
  • In re Polyurethane Foam Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2196 (W.D. Ohio). We are counsel for one of the class representatives in this nationwide class action alleging price fixing and anticompetitive agreements in the market for polyurethane foam. On April 9, 2014, the court granted certification of the class, and on November 6 and 14, 2014, the court preliminarily approved settlements with two of the defendants in the combined amount of $147.8 million.

Past Leadership Roles

  • We served as co-lead counsel in In re Puerto Rican Cabotage Antitrust Litigation,MDL No. 1960 (D.P.R), which involved price-fixing by Jones Act shipping companies for ocean shipping services between the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
  • We served as co-lead counsel in In re Aftermarket Filters Antitrust Litigation,MDL No. 1957 (N.D. Ill.), alleging antitrust, consumer protection and unfair competition claims against leading manufacturers of replacement vehicle filters on behalf of indirect purchasers from multiple states. Settlements with all defendants were reached and received final approval.
  • We served as co-lead counsel and co-lead trial counsel in In re Polyester Staple Antitrust Litigation,MDL No. 1516 (W.D.N.C.), a class action on behalf of business purchasers alleging price fixing of polyester staple fiber. The case was settled on the eve of trial, bringing the total recovery from all defendants to $63 million-an amount exceeding single damages suffered by the class.
  • We served as co-lead counsel and co-lead trial counsel in In re High Pressure Laminates Antitrust Litigation,MDL No. 1368 (S.D.N.Y.), where we tried a price-fixing case to verdict on behalf of businesses that purchased high-pressure laminates. We ultimately recovered $40.5 million in settlement payments from several of the defendant manufacturers.
  • We were one of two lead counsel firms representing a class of business purchasers of food additives in In re Monosodium Glutamate Antitrust Litigation,MDL No. 1328 (D. Minn.). We negotiated settlements with the defendants totaling $123.4 million-an amount exceeding the single damages suffered by the class.
  • As co-lead counsel in In re Bulk Graphite Antitrust Litigation,Case No. 02-cv-06030 (D.N.J.), we represented a nationwide class of business purchasers alleging price-fixing claims against manufacturers of bulk graphite. We reached a settlement exceeding the amount of single damages sustained by the class.
  • We served as lead trial counsel for a class of travel agents in In re Travel Agency Commission Antitrust Litigation,MDL No. 1058 (D. Minn.), which alleged that major domestic airlines conspired to fix agent commissions. The claims were settled on the eve of trial for a total of $86 million.
  • We were co-lead counsel for classes of consumers in actions asserting price-fixing claims brought in seventeen states against infant formula manufacturers. The cases were settled collectively for $64 million in cash and infant formula products.

Among judges, clients and peers, Heins Mills enjoys a reputation for its aggressive and skillful advocacy in antitrust litigation of national and international import. For example, the judge presiding over the multidistrict litigation in In re Monosodium Glutamate Antitrust Litigation, the Hon. Paul A. Magnuson, said of our work as co-lead counsel: "I'll make no bones about this, I think this is as fine a job of plaintiff lawyering as I've ever seen, ... I particularly take my hat off to the plaintiffs' counsel here."