Landmark Settlements in Global Capacitors Price-Fixing Case Secured

Landmark Settlements in Global Capacitors Price-Fixing Case Secured

Just before the holidays, Infotech Consulting and its clients celebrated the successful conclusion to the sprawling In Re Capacitors Litigation, with the parties announcing a final settlement had been reached with Nippon Chemi-Con (“NCC”). This was the last of more than 20 defendants accused of participating in a global conspiracy to fix the prices of capacitors. Plaintiffs alleged that price-fixing in this multibillion-dollar market began as far back as 2002 and continued for over a decade. The conspiracy spanned hundreds of thousands of capacitor products of various size, capacitance, and materials. Even before the NCC settlements, other defendants had agreed to settlements totaling $439.6 million. With the NCC settlements, all defendants have agreed to refund over $600 million in overcharges.

So, what exactly is a capacitor? Well, you’ve likely relied on them every day without ever noticing it (including right now as you read this on your computer or phone). A capacitor is a device that stores electrical energy in an electric field. They range in size from miniscule (fitting into a phone) to extremely large (think jet engines). They are essential components of electrical systems like TVs, smart phones, cameras, appliances, cars, medical devices, lighting, computers, and so much more. And yes – there are numerous capacitors in one product. Trillions of them are manufactured each year.

The rigorous statistical basis for the damages and impact analysis resulting in the extraordinary settlements came from Dr. Jim McClave, Dr. Jamie McClave Baldwin, Dr. Allison Zhou and the work of the entire Infotech Consulting team, backed by extensive research, data analysis, consulting, and expert testimony spanning a period of over seven years. These efforts culminated in multiple expert reports, two depositions, and expert testimony in both a concurrent expert witness proceeding (“hot tub”) and, finally, at trial. “Hot tubbing” is a process that some courts are adopting in which judges hear sworn testimony from opposing experts simultaneously (think live debate), rather than the traditional direct and cross examination of each expert separately.

The trial was originally scheduled for March 2020, but was suspended due to the emerging pandemic. Fast forward 20 months later, and the parties were back in the courtroom for trial. Dr. Jamie McClave Baldwin worked tirelessly alongside our clients during the (over two week) trial, providing expertise, research and support at every turn and twist of the trial proceedings.

In announcing the landmark settlements reached, representatives from Joseph Saveri Law Firm stated, “We strongly believe these ground-breaking settlements will deter this type of collusive behavior in the future, to the benefit of us all.”

Infotech Consulting celebrates this win, not only for our clients but for the numerous consumers affected by the global conspiracy of manufacturers to fix, raise, and maintain prices of capacitors at an elevated level.

“This win represents what our team does best – use our expertise, knowledge, and passion to fight for what is right,” shared Dr. Jamie McClave Baldwin, Expert and President of Infotech Consulting. “We are proud to have been involved in this case from the beginning of discovery, through class certification and both trials – over seven years of work. Other firms came and went, but our team never backed down from the challenge. It was this dedication and effort that helped produce outstanding results for our extraordinarily talented clients and the class of direct purchasers.”

Re Capacitor Antitrust Litigation (2017) Case No. 3:17-md-02801, U.S. Dist. Ct. N. Dist. California.

Infotech Businesses Aid in $101.35 Million Settlement for West Virginia DOT

Infotech houses two distinct operating businesses, Systems and Consulting. However, both businesses were born out of one request by the Florida Attorney General 42 years ago: can computerized statistical techniques be developed to detect bid rigging in public procurement?  The answer was yes, and Systems has been working with individual states ever since to make the highway construction industry more efficient and competitive while Consulting has been successfully helping states estimate damages when bid rigging is detected. This collaboration between businesses is still making an impact today, most recently in West Virginia. 

In 2014, the Assistant Director of the West Virginia Department of Highways felt there were significant issues in their bidding process. After a preliminary analysis in 2015, Infotech began a thorough analysis of West Virginia AASHTOWare Project BAMS/DSS™ data going back to 1996. Infotech also obtained comparison data with cooperation from surrounding states including Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. 

Data revealed that certain parts of the state were not competitive and, as a result, the West Virginia Attorney General and the Department of Transportation filed suit in 2017 against big name asphalt companies. Defendants attacked the reliability of the BAMS/DSS data and the subsequent analysis, but expert statistical consultant and Infotech co-founder Dr. Jim McClave, and Jeff Derrer, Infotech Senior Business Analyst, vigorously defended the data through multiple depositions and held steadfast in their knowledge that the data could only be explained by collusive behavior. After years of litigation, the case settled for $103,500,000, the largest antitrust settlement in West Virginia history. This was a victory for West Virginia and for both businesses of Infotech.

State of West Virginia, ex rel. Patrick Morrisey, Attorney General and Paul A. Mattox, Jr. in his Official Capacity as Secretary of Transportation and Commissioner of Highways, West Virginia Department of Transportation, v. CRH Plc, Oldcastle Inc, et al. Case No. 17-C-41, Cir. Ct of Kanawha County, WV (2017)

Frye vs. Daubert in Florida

After more than five years of uncertainty, the Florida Supreme Court reversed course and announced the Daubert standard will now govern the admissibility of expert testimony within the Florida court system, replacing the Frye standard. See In Re: Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, No. SC 19-107, May 23, 2019.  Courts apply strict rules on the admissibility of scientific evidence in legal cases in order to prevent junk science and unqualified experts from influencing a judge or jury.

Following revisions to the Federal Evidence Code in 1993, the Supreme Court of the United States set forth a new standard for the admission of expert testimony in the case Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.  See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).  Prior to 1993, the Frye standard was widely used throughout federal and state courts.  See Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923).  Since 1993 most state courts have adopted the Daubert standard, but Florida remained uncertain and moved back and forth between the two standards.

Frye vs. Daubert

Under the Frye standard, the court is tasked with reviewing whether the methodology being employed by the expert is generally recognized as being scientifically accepted. If this finding is made, then the question of whether the methodology is applied correctly would be a question for the jury. In addition, Frye is limited to new or novel scientific evidence. Under the Daubert standard, the court is charged with evaluating the methodology and, unlike under Frye, whether the application of that methodology is applied by the expert reliably to the facts of the case. Daubert requires that “the trial judge must ensure that any and all scientific testimony or evidence admitted is not only relevant but reliable.”  Daubert, 509 U.S. at 589.  Unlike Frye, Daubert applies to all expert testimony.  

It was not until 2013 that the Florida Legislature amended the Florida Evidence Code changing the standard for expert testimony from Frye to Daubert, joining the federal courts and most other state courts. However, the Florida Supreme Court did not acknowledge the change and Frye and Daubert were used inconsistently throughout the state. In 2018, the Florida Supreme Court tried to settle the issue and in a 4-3 decision in DeLisle v. Crane the court affirmed that the Frye standard was the appropriate level of scrutiny for expert testimony in Florida.  See DeLisle v. Crane., 258 So. 3d 1221 (Fla. 2018). The Florida Supreme Court found the 2013 adoption by the Florida Legislature of the Daubert standard was an unconstitutional infringement of the supreme court’s power to determine matters of practice and procedure.  See DeLisle v. Crane. Then in an unexpected reversal, the Florida Supreme Court, without revisiting DeLisle, adopted the Daubert standard, setting aside the less stringent Frye standard. Roughly six months from the DeLisle decision and with a substantially different bench, the Florida Supreme Court used its executive rulemaking authority and affirmed a new standard for Florida courts. The Court noted that the adoption of Daubert would “create consistency between the state and federal courts with respect to the admissibility of expert testimony and will promote fairness and predictability in the legal system, as well as help lessen forum shopping.”  In re Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code, No. SC 19-107 at 6. 

Infotech Consulting’s economic and econometric experts have been subject to the scrutiny of both Frye and Daubert as Infotech Consulting represents clients in Florida and nationwide.  Each of our experts have routinely and consistently surpassed the more daunting Daubert standard in cases ranging from employment law to healthcare to large multi-district antitrust cases.


Infotech Consulting’s Analyses Instrumental in Steel Class Case with $193.9 Million in Settlements

Infotech Consulting’s Analyses Instrumental in Steel Class Case with $193.9 Million in Settlements

The Infotech Consulting team, led by Dr. Jim McClave, provided econometric damages analysis to a large, national class of steel purchasers, alleging violations of the U.S. antitrust laws by several of the world’s largest steel manufacturers. Based on millions of sales transactions from thousands of customers, Infotech Consulting conducted damage analyses in support of the class. After years of litigation, the U.S. District Court granted class certification in September 2015 to over 5,500 direct purchasers of steel products. Settlements have been reached with all Defendants, totaling $193.9 million.

In re: Steel Antitrust Litigation, No. 08-cv-0514 (US District Court for the N.D. of Illinois)

Final Disposition in Air Cargo price fixing case – $1.25 billion in total settlements

Plaintiffs brought suit in 2006 after the US Department of Justice and the European Commission initiated investigations into the air cargo industry. The alleged conspirators took part in meetings and other communications to determine and set air cargo rates that airlines should charge for various routes. The airlines then imposed the agreed upon rates and continued to maintain and enforce those rates for over six years.

This suit included over 30 airline companies. Infotech Consulting and Dr. McClave was hired in April 2010 to calculate damages to Plaintiffs due to the illegal price-fixing scheme. Infotech Consulting analyzed more than 30 million transactions in the formalization of Dr. McClave damage analysis report and testimony for the class certification hearing in October, 2013. In July 2015, class certification was granted for a class of tens of thousands of direct purchasers of air cargo shipping services. By the beginning of 2016 all but two Defendants had settled with the Plaintiffs. In the spring of 2016, the remaining two Defendants settled, bringing the total settlement value to over $1.25 billion.

In re: Air Cargo Shipping Services Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1775 (E.D. of New York)