NSK Secures Major Victory in Automotive Parts Antitrust Multidistrict Litigation

January 10, 2019

Cleary Gottlieb secured a major victory for its client, NSK, and the other defendant manufacturers of bearings (the Bearings Defendants) in a sprawling multidistrict antitrust suit brought by direct purchasers of the bearings over alleged price fixing.

On Monday, January 7, 2019, Judge Marianne Battani of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan denied the Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs’ (DPPs) motion for class certification, ruling that the plaintiffs failed to satisfy the requirements of typicality and adequacy.

Accepting the arguments that Cleary advanced in the briefing and at oral argument, Judge Battani agreed that the DPP named plaintiffs were very different from most bearings purchasers and would not be proper representatives of class members like large original equipment manufacturers, who purchase custom bearings at heavily negotiated prices through an RFQ process. The court highlighted the fact that several of the DPPs’ theories of harm did not apply to the proposed representatives and that the representatives therefore would not have the proper incentives to pursue those theories. For largely the same reasons, the court also held that the DPPs did not meet the predominance requirement.

This was the first class certification decision in the Auto Parts MDL and could have broad implications for the remaining cases in the MDL, which involve dozens of other auto parts manufacturers and hundreds of defendants.