Volume 44, Issue 9 - September 2009

Legislation&Legal

 

Court Compels Guardian to Produce Documents from EC Investigation

In the most recent development of a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleging that several glass manufacturers engaged in a conspiracy to fix prices (see March 2009 USGlass, page 22, for related story), the court has granted a motion from the plaintiffs to compel Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Guardian Industries to produce several documents that were reviewed during a European Commission (EC) price-fixing investigation.

Guardian had objected to the original motion, arguing that “the requests are overly broad, unreasonably burdensome and violative of principles of international comity,” according to court documents.

The memo granting the motion, authored by Chief District Judge Donetta Ambrose, notes that “courts have traditionally taken a liberal view of relevance in determining the scope of discovery” in anti-trust cases.

“I agree that liberal discovery is necessary in an alleged antitrust conspiracy case where the alleged wrongdoing is generally covert,” writes Ambrose. “I further agree with the Class Plaintiffs that the documents sought could be relevant to motive and opportunity for defendants to conspire in the United States, the scope and nature of such conspiracy and how defendants may have concealed any unlawful activities. Further, these documents may assist Class Plaintiffs in identifying witnesses for their case.”

Ambrose also writes that while producing the documents could be a “substantial burden” to Guardian, because the documents are within the scope of the allegations, and because the class plaintiffs have alleged a link between the EC investigation, the EC cartel and “the alleged [U.S.] cartel, that is a burden that must be assumed.”

A deadline for the production of the documents will be set at a meeting between the plaintiffs and Guardian, which is one of several defendants in the case, according to court documents.

In November 2007, the EC had levied fines against Guardian Industries, Pilkington, Saint-Gobain and AGC Flat Glass Europe for alleged price-fixing practices in the European flat glass market (see December 2007 USGlass, page 36, for related story).

In addition to Guardian, among the other defendants are Pilkington North America and PPG Industries. Plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers agreed to raise and fix prices “through a combination of collusive energy surcharges and price increases.”

The manufacturers previously had motioned for the judge to dismiss the suit. That motion was denied in February.

 

Scammers Continue to Plague Glass Shops
During the slow summer glass shops across the board are hungry for work—but in light of circulating e-mail scams glass shops should still show caution in what work they accept.

“I know of two glass shops here in Louisiana that lost $1,100 [as a result of scams],” says Linda Medine, owner of Integrity Glassworks in Baton Rouge, La. After scammers contacted her, she called USGlass to warn other glass shops.

“What they do is pretend to be a deaf mute, so they have an IP operator call here and then they agree to do correspondence through email. The first time [it happened] I thought I was dealing with a deaf mute so I thought, whatever I could to help, great,” Medine says. “But when they asked me to ship to Africa, that sent up a red flag.”

Indeed, the Internet Crime Complaint Center advises that Internet users always be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country and doing research to ensure legitimacy of the individual or company with whom you’re communicating. Medine adds, “The first time they did it to me I caught it and reversed the charges.”

The second time, the scammers went to the company’s website and found Medine’s email address and contacted her directly, again asking her to ship glass to Africa. Medine contacted her bank and reported the credit card numbers she was given by the scammer. “They [the scammer] wanted me to charge $6,500 dollars on this card,” she says. “If someone’s got a credit card with a limit of $6,500 they’re a hardworking person.”
www.ic3.gov



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