Complete Dismissal of Antitrust and Consumer Protection Claims Against “K” Line

August 28, 2015

Cleary Gottlieb secured the dismissal of antitrust class actions brought by direct and indirect purchasers of ocean vehicle carrier services against clients Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. and its subsidiary “K” Line America, Inc., along with other ocean shipping company defendants. On August 28, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed all claims in the cases with prejudice.

The plaintiffs asserted a conspiracy among ocean vehicle carriers to increase prices, allocate customers and routes, and restrict capacity, following on guilty pleas by certain defendants in settlements with the Department of Justice. In July, Cleary Gottlieb partner Mark W. Nelson argued the motion to dismiss the direct purchaser case on behalf of “K” Line and the other defendants. The Court dismissed the direct purchaser plaintiffs’ claims, holding that the challenged conduct was prohibited by the Shipping Act of 1984 and thus exempted from private actions under the Clayton Act. The Court also dismissed the indirect purchaser plaintiffs’ state antitrust and consumer protection claims as conflict preempted by the Shipping Act and within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Maritime Commission.