Oct

16

Posted by : Matthew Wild | On : October 16, 2009

Levitt & Kaizer, on behalf of the class of indirect purchasers in In re Packaged Ice Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1952 and the individual class representatives, asserted today the class’ rights as victims under the Crime Victims Rights Act (18 U.S.C. 3771) in connection with the criminal prosecution of Arctic Glacier and its former executives.  They requested the opportunity to be heard before the court decides whether to accept any plea agreements.  They also requested that the court postpone the upcoming arraignment of Arctic Glacier on October 27, 2009 and provide them with 30 days’ notice before the Court accepts any plea agreement.  A copy of their letter is available here: CVRA Letter

As previously reported, these defendants entered into plea agreements on October 14, 2009.  In apparent violation of the CVRA, the government entered into the plea agreements without conferring with the indirect purchasers beforehand.  See, e.g., In re Dean, 527 F.3d 391, 394 (5th Cir. 2008) (“the government should have fashioned a reasonable way to inform the victims of the likelihood of criminal charges and to ascertain the victims’ views on the possible details of a plea bargain”).  The CVRA provides, inter alia, “[t]he right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding … involving the crime,” “the right to confer with the attorney for the government” and “[t]he right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving … plea [or] sentencing.”  18 U.S.C. § 3771(a)(2)&(4)&(5).  The CVRA further provides that “the court shall ensure that the crime victim is afforded the[se] rights.”  18 U.S.C. § 3771(b)(1). 

Levitt & Kaizer and the Law Offices of Max Wild are interim co-lead counsel for the indirect purchaser class in In re Packaged Ice Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1952.   The Perrin Law Firm is liaison counsel for the indirect purchaser class.


Oct

14

Posted by : Matthew Wild | On : October 14, 2009

The Antitrust Division’s press release:

"WASHINGTON — A packaged-ice company, headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $9 million criminal fine for allocating customers, the Department of Justice announced today. In addition, three of the company’s former executives pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy to allocate customers.

According to a one-count felony charge filed under seal on Sept. 10, 2009, and unsealed today in the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, Arctic Glacier International Inc. engaged in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by allocating packaged-ice customers in the Detroit metropolitan area and southeastern Michigan, beginning Jan. 1, 2001, and continuing until at least July 17, 2007. Under the plea agreement, which must be approved by the court, Arctic Glacier has agreed to cooperate with the Department’s ongoing investigation.

According to separate one-count felony charges, also filed under seal on Sept. 10, 2009, and unsealed today in the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, Frank Larson, Arctic Glacier’s former senior vice president of operations, and Keith Corbin, the company’s former vice president of sales and marketing, participated in the same conspiracy beginning at least as early as March 1, 2005, and continuing at least until July 17, 2007. According to an additional one-count felony charge filed under seal on Sept. 10, 2009, in the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati and unsealed today, Gary Cooley, the company’s former vice president of sales and marketing, also participated in the conspiracy from at least as early as June 1, 2006, until July 17, 2007. Under the three separate plea agreements, which must be approved by the court, the former executives have agreed to cooperate with the Department’s ongoing investigation.

In court documents, the Department said that the three former executives and Arctic Glacier, conspired with another packaged-ice competitor to allocate packaged-ice customers in southeastern Michigan and the Detroit metropolitan areas. As a part of the conspiracy, Arctic Glacier, its former executives and other co-conspirators exchanged information for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed customer allocations and refrained from competing for the allocated customers.

Arctic Glacier, Larson, Corbin and Cooley are each charged with allocating packaged-ice customers in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals and a $100 million fine for corporations. The maximum fines may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims if either of those amounts is greater than the Sherman Act maximum fines.

These charges stem from an ongoing antitrust investigation into the packaged-ice industry. As a part of the same investigation, Home City Ice Company pleaded guilty on June 17, 2008, for its participation in a conspiracy to allocate customers and territories in the packaged-ice industry."

Levitt & Kaizer and the Law Offices of Max Wild are interim co-lead counsel for the indirect purchaser class in In re Packaged Ice Antitrust Litig., MDL No. 1952.   The Perrin Law Firm is liaison counsel for the indirect purchaser class.

Sep

17

Posted by : Matthew Wild | On : September 17, 2009

On September 15, 2009, LEVITT & KAIZER and THE LAW OFFICES OF MAX WILD (interim lead counsel for the class) and THE PERRIN LAW FIRM (liaison counsel) filed an amended class action complaint seeking recovery on behalf of packaged ice consumers in 47 states and the District of Columbia.  The amended complaint provides further details of the conduct of defendants Reddy Ice, Arctic Glacier and Home City Ice that were not available when the original complaint was filed.  As the amended complaint explains,

“[t]his action arises from a long-standing agreement among defendants – producers of packaged ice in the United States and Canada, which have a combined market share of nearly 70 percent — not to compete with each other. In furtherance of their cartel, defendants agreed to, and did in fact, fix and inflate prices, allocate territories and customers, acquire competitors, refuse to compete and otherwise commit a variety of unlawful and anticompetitive acts. The purpose and effect of the cartel has been to fix, raise, maintain and stabilize the prices paid for ice sold in plastic bags or large blocks (“packaged ice”) throughout the United States. Evidence of the existence of the conspiracy includes but is not limited to admissions made by participants in the conspiracy, a guilty plea by one of the defendants to a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, defendants’ suspension of officers who they believe may have participated in the cartel, defendants’ attempts to intimidate and bribe a whistleblower and economic behavior that would have been inconsistent with each defendant’s self-interest or implausible in the absence of the conspiracy.”

The amended complaint is available here: Ice Amended Complaint

The defendants have 60 days to respond.