Dow to settle polyurethane price-fixing case

Dow Chemical has agreed to pay $835 million (£594m) to settle a US class action lawsuit over allegations of price fixing. The company had intended to appeal damages awarded in the case, but changed tack after the death of an influential supreme court judge.

In 2013, a federal court in Kansas ordered Dow to pay $400 million in damages after it was found guilty of conspiring with its competitors to artificially inflate polyurethane prices between 1999 and 2003. Antitrust laws saw that sum tripled to $1.2 billion, then adjusted to $1.06 billion plus interest. The other defendants in the case all settled out of court.

Having already lost one appeal, Dow had been due to contest the ruling in the supreme court. However, the recent death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia leaves the supreme court in deadlock with four conservative judges and four liberal ones. Split votes automatically revert to the lower court’s decision. Dow’s argument in the case was closely aligned to previous judgments in which Scalia had ruled favourably for companies.

Dow said in a statement: ‘While Dow is settling this case, it continues to strongly believe that it was not part of any conspiracy and the judgment was fundamentally flawed as a matter of class action law.’

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