ArcelorMittal Fourth Steelmaker to Settle in Ongoing Antitrust Lawsuit

Another shoe has dropped in the ongoing federal antitrust lawsuit involving a group of U.S. steelmakers.

ArcelorMittal, one of eight steel manufacturers initially listed as defendants in an ongoing class action lawsuit  in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, agreed in June to pay $90 million to settle, according to court documents.

The lawsuit, filed by Scranton, Pa.-based metal fabricator Standard Iron Works, alleges that the steelmakers conspired to fix prices in the mid-2000s.

“The proposed Settlement … was arrived at by good faith arm’s-length negotiations by highly experienced counsel, after years of litigation, and upon a developed litigation record,” the preliminary approval, as ordered by Judge James Zagel, reads.

Spokeswoman Mary Beth Holdford recently told The Times in Northwest Indiana that ArcelorMittal “continues to strongly deny any liability or wrongdoing and believes the claims are without merit,” but it agreed to the settlement “in order to avoid further cost and distraction of management resources, as well as to mitigate further risk.”

Three other steel companies involved—AK Steel Corp., Gerdau Ameristeel Corp. and Commercial Metals Co.—combined to settle for $15.9 million in May. Meanwhile, Nucor, Steel Dynamics, SSAB Swedish Steel and U.S. Steel have yet to settle.

The final approval hearing for the first settlement will be held this month, while ArcelorMittal’s final approval hearing is slated for October.

According to a notice issued by the court earlier this year, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants conspired to “manipulate the supply and price of Steel Products sold in the United States” between April 1, 2005 and December 31, 2007. “Plaintiffs allege that Defendants conspired to restrict their output, therefore increasing the prices they were able to charge for Steel Products,” the notice reads.

The original complaint says ArcelorMittal, at the time, accounted for approximately 20 to 25 percent of the total domestic raw steel capacity.

According to court documents, Wilmington Steel Processing Co. Inc., Capow Inc. d/b/a Eastern States Steel, Alco Industries Inc., and Gulf Streak Builders Supply Inc. were appointed as representatives of the settlement class in addition to Standard Iron Works.

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