Network Firm News
Beauty Contests for New Antitrust Work
New York Lawyer -- March 12, 2003
By Jenna Greene and Siobhan Roth -- Legal Times
The world's major automakers have been holding beauty contests to select counsel for a potentially massive antitrust class action. Since mid-February, more than a dozen cases have been filed in federal and state courts around the country by plaintiffs firms including Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach and Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo.
The cases charge carmakers with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act by conspiring to eliminate the import of lower-priced new cars from Canada into the United States. In Canada, cars cost 10 percent to 30 percent less, plaintiffs allege, but to stop U.S. consumers from buying them, automakers refuse to honor warranties and penalize Canadian dealers for selling to Americans.
So far, DaimlerChrysler has retained an antitrust team led by Steven Newborn from the D.C. office of Clifford Chance; the Toyota Motor Corp. has hired Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton's D.C. antitrust group; the General Motors Corp. has tapped Kirkland & Ellis; Daniel Goldberg of Boston's Bingham McCutchen has BMW; and Robert Van Nest of San Francisco's Keker & Van Nest is representing Honda America.
Says one D.C. lawyer following the case: "This will be a major, major antitrust suit."