Three steel manufacturers continue to hold their ground in a price fixing lawsuit that saw five other defendants previously settle for a total of $163.9 million.

Glass globe with dollar signs on background with money symbol.In 2008, Pennsylvania-based Standard Iron Works and four other companies filed a lawsuit alleging U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal conspired with six other domestic steel manufacturers “to manipulate the supply and price of steel products sold in the United States,” according to court documents. The plaintiffs alleged that, from April 1, 2005 to December 31, 2007, the eight steelmakers “conspired to restrict their output, thereby increasing the prices they were able to charge for steel products.”

Litigation has been ongoing since, though five of the companies listed as defendants— Commercial Metals Co., AK Steel Holding Corp., Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel—had settlements approved in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division in October.

Throughout litigation, all of the settling defendants denied any wrongdoing as well as the allegations against them, though they claimed to have settled in order to avoid the cost of further litigation and trial.

However, three companies, Nucor, Steel Dynamics and SSAB Swedish Steel, continue to push back a year after the others decided to settle.

SSAB is the latest to file a lengthy memorandum in which it denies wrongdoing. According to court documents, SSAB argues that there is no evidence it was involved in the “conspiracy” and that the timeline of its ownership of IPSCO Inc. proves as much.

“First, as SSAB has repeatedly told plaintiffs from the start of this case, they have sued the wrong party. None of the substantive allegations in the Complaint mention SSAB,” the memorandum, filed in April, reads. “Instead, the Complaint alleges that IPSCO Inc. participated in an illegal conspiracy, and that SSAB is the ‘successor’ to IPSCO. … That conclusory allegation of “successor” liability is the sole basis for plaintiffs’ claim against SSAB.

“It is also demonstrably wrong as a matter of law. After the alleged wrongdoing in this case ended—i.e., about seven months after the last, allegedly collusive, steel production cut—SSAB acquired the stock of IPSCO (which, in turn, owned the stock of asset-rich subsidiary corporations) and held it for about a year, before selling those shares to a Russian steel company which, as a result, then owned IPSCO. SSAB’s brief ownership of IPSCO’s shares—well after all the alleged wrongdoing described in the Complaint, but before these cases were filed—provides no basis for imposing on SSAB antitrust liability for IPSCO’s purported conduct in an earlier period.”

Nucor, meanwhile, previously filed an opposition to a motion by the plaintiffs for limited non-party discovery. Nucor argues that the motion “fails to show ‘good cause’ for exceeding the Court’s discovery limits at this juncture in the case.”

Nucor continues to deny wrongdoing and asserts that the plaintiffs’ “alleged supply reduction case is extraordinarily weak against Nucor,” court documents read. “Nucor produced a record amount of steel in 2005 when Plaintiffs complain the first of two limited industry production cuts occurred. The next year, when Plaintiffs claim the other production cut occurred, Nucor broke its 2005 record and set a new record for steel production.”

A status hearing on the case is scheduled for Thursday, June 11.

The settlement amounts approved last October were made in accordance with the size of the companies and their output during the span of the alleged price-fixing.

According to court documents, ArcelorMittal accounted for approximately 20 to 25 percent of the total domestic raw steel capacity during that time, while U.S. Steel controlled approximately 16 percent.

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