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 venue 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

The firm's most recent achievements in antitrust litigation have burnished our sterling reputation among judges, clients and peers as an aggressive and skillful advocate for our clients and for competitive markets.

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

  • Fond du Lac Bumper Exchange, Inc. v. Jui Li Enterprise Co. (Aftermarket Sheet Metal Antitrust Litig.), No. 2:09-cv-00852 (E.D. Wis.). We serve as lead counsel for a class of direct purchasers who allege that manufacturers of aftermarket automotive sheet metal parts conspired to fix the prices and output of their products. After previously approving settlements with four defendants totaling $25 million, the court on June 24, 2016, granted class counsel's motion to certify the class of direct purchasers for litigation against the remaining defendants. Certification followed class counsel's successful defense against the defendants' motion to exclude testimony by expert witnesses on behalf of the class. On the road to certification, the Seventh Circuit on January 14, 2016, denied a petition for a writ of mandamus that would have removed the presiding judge from the case.
  • Gordon v. Amadeus IT Group, S.A., No. 1:15-cv-05457 (S.D.N.Y.). We serve as co-lead counsel on behalf of a class of consumers alleging that an antitrust conspiracy by the three Global Distribution Companies (GDSs) caused airline ticket prices to be inflated.
  • In re Lidoderm Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 2521 (N.D. Cal.). We serve as interim co-lead counsel for a class of end-payors who allege that defendants engaged in an anticompetitive scheme to illegally delay entry of less expensive generic versions of Lidoderm patch 5%, an analgesic patch containing lidocaine. After largely denying the defendants' motion to dismiss the claims, the court on February 21, 2017 granted the end-payor plaintiffs' motion for class certification.
  • In re Aggrenox Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 2516 (D. Conn.). Heins Mills is interim co-lead counsel for a proposed nationwide class of end-payors who allege that in order to delay generic competition with Aggrenox, a branded prescription drug to treat certain stroke patients, the patent owner conspired with another drug company, which had sought FDA approval for a generic form of Aggrenox. The district court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss in large part, finding that the complaint properly pleads a reverse payment antitrust claim under the Supreme Court decision in FTC v. Actavis, Inc. The case was recently settled.
  • In Re Lipitor Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 2332 (D.N.J.). We continue to serve as co-lead counsel for the proposed end-payor class (consumers and health plan sponsors) in this multidistrict antitrust case alleging that certain drug manufacturers violated state antitrust and consumer laws by engaging in anticompetitive conduct to delay the entry of a generic version of the blockbuster drug Lipitor, resulting in significant overcharges to plaintiffs.
  • In re Suboxone (Buprenorphine Hydrochloride and Naloxone) Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 2445 (E.D. Pa.). We serve as a member of the court-appointed executive committee representing the proposed end-payor class, which alleges that a brand drug manufacturer used anticompetitive practices to improperly maintain its monopoly in the market for Suboxone, a drug used for treatment of heroin addiction. The court largely denied the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint, which has since been amended to further support the plaintiffs' claims.
  • In re Niaspan Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 2460 (E.D. Pa.). We also serve on the executive committee for this proposed end-payor class alleging that the defendants entered into unlawful pay-for-delay agreements relating to the brand-name prescription drug Niaspan, the only extended-release version of niacin approved for once-a-day treatment of mixed lipid disorders. Plaintiffs assert that the brand manufacturer agreed to pay substantial sums to the generic company to stay out of the market for a period of over eight years. The defendants' motion to dismiss was denied and class counsel have since engaged in extensive discovery.
  • In re American Express Anti-Steering Rules Antitrust Litig., No. 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. The case has been stayed pending Supreme Court review.

Past Leadership Roles

  • In re Puerto Rican Cabotage Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1960 (D.P.R). We served as co-lead counsel in this litigation alleging price-fixing by Jones Act shipping companies for ocean shipping services between the United States and Puerto Rico.
  • In re Aftermarket Filters Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1957 (N.D. Ill.). We were one of three firms serving as co-lead counsel in this action 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.
  • In re Polyester Staple Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1516 (W.D.N.C.). We served as co-lead counsel and co-lead trial counsel in 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.
  • In re High Pressure Laminates Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1368 (S.D.N.Y.). We served as co-lead counsel and co-lead trial counsel in this price-fixing case which we tried 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.
  • In re Monosodium Glutamate Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1328 (D. Minn.). We were one of two lead counsel firms representing a class of business purchasers of food additives. We negotiated settlements with the defendants totaling $123.4 million-an amount exceeding the single damages suffered by the class.
  • In re Bulk Graphite Antitrust Litig., No. 02-cv-06030 (D.N.J.). As co-lead counsel representing 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.
  • In re Travel Agency Commission Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1058 (D. Minn.). We served as lead trial counsel for a class of travel agents alleging that major domestic airlines conspired to fix agent commissions. The claims were settled on the eve of trial for a total of $86 million.
  • Glaberson v. Comcast Corp., No.03-cv-6604 (E.D. Pa.). Heins Mills served as co-lead counsel in this action alleging on behalf of a class of customers that Comcast, the largest cable TV company in the world, monopolized the cable TV market in their area and restrained trade by dividing markets and customers through swaps and acquisitions with its competitors and other anticompetitive conduct that suppressed competition, causing inflated prices. After more than eleven years, including trips to the Third Circuit and Supreme Court, we achieved a settlement valued at $50 million. In approving the settlement, the court remarked, "We find that [the] skill, efficiency, expertise and professionalism of all counsel involved in this litigation have been exemplary."

Other Litigation Roles

We have also made important contributions as co-counsel in non-leadership roles. Representative examples include the following antitrust cases:

  • In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litig., 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, 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. Class counsel are now defending the NCAA's appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit of a March 31, 2016 award of more than $42 million in attorney fees and litigation costs as the prevailing party in the lawsuit.
  • In re Capacitors Antitrust Litig., No. 3:14-cv-03264 (N.D. Cal.). We have assisted in this price-fixing case alleging manufacturers of capacitor injured buyers. Several settlements have already been achieved.
  • In re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litig., No. 3:07-md-01827 (N.D. Cal.). Vince Esades was named to the executive committee and assisted with this price-fixing case against manufacturers for flat-panel LCD screens. The case settled, yielding hundreds of millions for the class.
  • In re ACTOS End-Payor Antitrust Litig., No. 13-cv-09244 (S.D.N.Y.). We represent health and welfare fund plaintiffs and a proposed end-payor class of purchasers in this antitrust action alleging that the defendants took anticompetitive steps to delay entry of lower-priced versions of prescription drugs, resulting in price overcharges to plaintiffs and the proposed class. On February 8, 2017, the Second Circuit reversed in part the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that the plaintiffs plausibly alleged that the defendants delayed Teva's market entry in violation of the antitrust laws.
  • In re Publication Paper Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1631 (D. Conn.). We were 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 Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1917 (N.D. Cal.). We were one of the law firms representing a national class of direct purchasers of CRTs alleging that the manufacturers operated a global cartel that set artificially high prices for televisions and monitors containing CRTs. The court granted final approval of settlements totaling $139 million.
  • In re Polyurethane Foam Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 2196 (W.D. Ohio). The court approved settlements totaling $433.1 million in this case alleging conspiracy by defendants to fix the price of polyurethane foam.
  • In re Processed Egg Products Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 2002 (E.D. Pa.). On June 30, 2016, the court approved settlements with Hillendale (in the amount of $3,000,000), NuCal Foods ($1,425,000), National Food ($1,000,000), Midwest Poultry Services ($2,500,000) and United Egg Producers and United States Egg Marketers ($500,000 each). More recently, on December 8, 2016, the plaintiffs reached a settlement with Michael Foods for $75 million.
  • In re Municipal Derivatives Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1950 (S.D.N.Y.). On July 8, 2016, the court granted final approval of settlements with the remaining defendants (UBS AG, Societe Generale, Nataxis, Piper Jaffray, National Westminster Bank and George K. Baun & Co.) totaling nearly $101 million. These settlements bring the aggregate recovery to more than $225 million.
  • In re Prograf Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 2242 (D. Mass.). The indirect purchasers' $13.25 million settlement with Astellas was approved on November 2, 2016.
  • In re Titanium Dioxide Antitrust Litig., No. 10-cv-00318 (D. Md.). The Court granted final approval to settlements totaling $163.5 million in this action alleging that manufacturers of titanium dioxide conspired to fix prices for the products. Our client was one of the named plaintiffs.
  • In re Plasma-Derivative Protein Therapies Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 2109 (N.D. Ill.). Our client was one of three named plaintiffs alleging that producers of immunoglobulin and albumin restricted the supply of these products to inflate their prices. The court granted final approval of settlements totaling $128 million.
  • Refrigerant Compressors Antitrust Litig., No. 09-md-02042 (E.D. Mich.). Our client and other named plaintiffs in this action alleged that the defendants conspired to fix prices of refrigerant compressors. The court granted final approval of settlements totaling approximately $30 million.

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."