Bridgestone, Toyo Settle Parts Price-Fixing Suits
Oct. 16, 2017—Bridgestone Corp. and Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. will pay $29.6 million and $36.1 million, respectively, to resolve allegations that they fixed prices and rigged bids in the late 1990s and early 2000s on automotive anti-vibration parts, Tire Business reports.
Bridgestone and Toyo, along with four other Japanese automotive suppliers are settling this multidistrict litigration suit by a group of "end-payor plaintiffs" (EPPs). Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case filed the agreement Oct. 9 before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The suit was filed originally in 2014.
In the case, end-payor plaintiffs (EPPs) were identified as "all persons and entities who, during the period from and including March 1, 1996...purchased or leased a new vehicle in the United States not for resale which included one or more anti-vibration rubber part(s) as a component part, or indirectly purchased one or more anti-vibration rubber part(s) as a replacement part, which were manufactured or sold by the defendants, any current or former subsidiary of the defendants or any co-conspirator of the defendants."
The report then states that the suit identifies 58 plaintiffs by name and "all others similarly situated" according to the referenced definition. The other companies identified as defendants in the suit are Yamashita Rubber Co. Ltd., YUSA Corp., Tokai Rubber Industries Ltd. and DTR Industries Inc.
Toyo also settled a second, related suit, filed by a group of car dealers, agreeing to pay $11.4 million to settle similar claims.
In addition to the money, Bridgestone and Toyo both agreed to offer total cooperation with the ongoing litigation, including witness interviews and depositions and production of documents, according to the agreements.
Prior to the settlement of this case, Bridgestone pleaded guilty to one felony count in Toledo federal district court and agreed to pay $425 million to settle the Justice Department Antitrust Division's charge that the company conspired to fix prices of rubber anti-vibration parts. Toyo pleaded guilty to two separate conspiracies involving anti-vibration parts in December 2013, and agreed to pay a fine of $120 million.
The Antitrust Division alleged that Bridgestone conspired to rig bids, allocate markets and fix prices in the anti-vibration parts market as early as January 2001, and that Toyo entered that conspiracy by January 2006.