Caustic Soda Antitrust Litigation
Court: United States District Court for the Western District of New York
Precious Plate, Inc., et al. v. Olin Corporation, et. al., Case No.: 1:19-cv-00990
Sodium hydroxide, commonly known as caustic soda, is a commodity chemical that is used in a variety of industries, including paper, chemical production, food processing, and textiles. From approximately 2012 until late 2015, caustic soda prices were either declining or flat due to industry overcapacity and flat demand. It is alleged that these conditions motivated the Defendants to conspire and combine to restrict domestic supply of caustic soda, of which they control an estimated 90%.
Under this alleged scheme, Defendants are accused of fixing, raising, maintaining, and stabilizing the price at which caustic soda was and continues to be sold, as well as allocating or refusing to supply customers and refusing to bid on contracts while falsely claim supply was tight or scarce.
The alleged conspiracy was facilitated by secret co-producer supply agreements between and among Defendants and their agents – both directly with each other and indirectly through third parties – by manipulation of a price index and by the characteristics of the industry.
Average quarterly North American undiscounted Caustic Soda prices declined approximately 6% between the fourth quarter of 2012 through the third quarter of 2015. However, numerous across-the-board price increases of more than 50% were implemented by the Defendants in the fourth quarter of 2015 that affected all caustic soda purchasers. As a result of Defendants’ alleged unlawful conduct, caustic soda prices in the U.S. paid by Plaintiff have been artificially increased by a substantial amount and maintained above levels that would be expected due to supply and demand conditions.
Wexler Wallace filed this case in July 2019 on behalf of Plaintiffs and a putative class of indirect purchasers for the harm caused by Defendants’ conduct.