Jury orders Dow Chemical to pay $400 million in price-fixing case

Dow Chemical Co on Wednesday was ordered by a federal jury to pay $400 million in a price-fixing case over chemicals used to make a wide range of foam products found in cars, furniture and packaging, according to court documents.

Dow was one of several chemical company defendants named in a class action lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to fix urethane chemical prices. But Dow was the only defendant not to settle. Last month, it went to trial in Kansas City, Kansas federal court.

The plaintiffs, purchasers of urethane chemicals, had sought more than $1 billion in damages.

If the $400 million verdict is sustained by the judge overseeing the case, it may be tripled under federal antitrust law.

David Bernick, an attorney for Dow, said that the company would seek to dismiss the lawsuit in a post-trial motion.

The plaintiffs had sought damages for a five-year conspiracy, noted Bernick. But the jury did not find Dow liable for the full five years, he said.

"We think it's very clear that the jury rejected the five-year class conspiracy claim and there was no other claim," Bernick said.

Joe Goldberg, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he was pleased with the verdict.

"The people of Kansas administered justice, consistent with the evidence," Goldberg said.

Other defendants in the case have settled. In 2006 Bayer AG agreed to pay $55 million. In 2011 Huntsman International LLC agreed to pay $33 million and BASF Corp agreed to pay $51 million. In settling, none of the companies admitted any wrongdoing.

The case is In Re Urethane Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas, 04-md-01616.