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Purported whistleblower and ex-Prestige manager weighs heavily in Florida case.

Sources: CP staff; U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division

In their 102-page Motion to Dismiss now before U.S. District Court in Miami, defense attorneys in*aIn Re Florida Cement and Concrete Antitrust Litigation*achallenge evidence--possibly the springboard for plaintiff complaints--supporting an alleged "customer allocation conspiracy." In a February 2009 letter to the Department of Justice, a manager for Prestige Block, Inc., a subsidiary of defendant Votorantim Cementos North America, claimed that the company president indicated Prestige would not seek customers of another defendant, Cemex. Such an 'arrangement,' defense attorneys contend,*a"could just as plausibly indicate that each company independently was aware that pursuing the other's customers could result in reciprocal behavior that in the end would lead only to reduced revenues without any corresponding gain in quantities sold ... Avoiding the initiation of a price war that likely would result from the pursuit of each other's customers on price would be in the rational independent business interest of each Defendant."

In continued discussion of the Prestige letter, defense counsel contrast plaintiffs' assertion of anticompetitive practices cover-up against an acknowledgement that Prestige management permitted the author/manager to discuss alleged illegal conduct with the Department of Justice. "The cover-up allegations reveal that the entirety of Plaintiffs' claims of an industry-wide conspiracy are based on the rank speculation of a disgruntled former employee of a single Defendant ... That the Complaints are rife with bare allegations and bald conclusions, notwithstanding the cooperation of this purported whistleblower, is perhaps the most persuasive evidence Plaintiffs are engaged in a fishing expedition, hoping to leverage costly discovery into a lucrative settlement of an otherwise frivolous claim based only on pleadings that are devoid of any plausible inferences of conspiracy."

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Publication:Concrete Products (Online Exclusive)
Date:Apr 6, 2010
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