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Vitamins Class Action Lawsuit Filed in Panama

Washington, DC – September 10, 2009 – Hausfeld LLP, a global claimants’ law firm dedicated to handling large and complex litigation matters for individuals, corporations and organizations, today announced that its Latin American correspondent law firm Rubio, Alvarez, Solis & Abrego (RASA) has filed a class action lawsuit in the First Judicial Circuit of Panama against F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Ltd. (Roche). Filed in close association with Hausfeld LLP, the lawsuit seeks compensation from Roche for Panamanian vitamin purchasers as a result of Roche’s participation in one of the world’s most notorious price fixing cartels.

The class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Industrias Lacteas, S.A. (formerly Procesadora Industrial) and Panamanian corporate and individual victims overcharged as a result of the alleged vitamins cartel. The lawsuit specifically alleges that Industrias Lacteas, S.A., a company that, among other activities, raises livestock, was overcharged in its purchases of bulk vitamins from Roche between January 1992 and March 1998. The claim also allows for a broader set of purchasers, from countries other than Panama, to join the class action.

“Hausfeld LLP is committed to pursuing with our partners and correspondents the private enforcement of global cartel activity in any jurisdiction where cartel victims can achieve redress for their economic harm,” said Michael Hausfeld, Chairman of Hausfeld LLP. “The class action lawsuit filed in Panama continues our long-standing efforts to provide such redress for victims of the unparalleled vitamins cartel.”

This lawsuit, filed in Panama under Panama’s Law 19 of 2008, is the first international class action filed in Latin America against a non-Latin American defendant, where foreign plaintiffs, with similar claims, are allowed to join. It is also the first Latin American class action involving a global cartel.

The Panama class action lawsuit seeks to extend the recent successes of Hausfeld LLP lawyers in recovering over a billion dollars in settlements for vitamin purchases victimized by the 10-year global price-fixing and market allocation cartel, including:

• In In Re Vitamins Antitrust Litigation (D.D.C.), Hausfeld LLP serves as Co-Lead Counsel for two classes of U.S. direct vitamin purchasers in this decade-long litigation, which has included a landmark billion dollar partial settlement and a jury verdict of more than $148 million in a 2003 trial in the case (the 12th largest U.S. jury verdict in 2003).

• In Empagran, S.A., et al. v. F. Hoffmann-LaRoche, Ltd., et al. (D.D.C.), Hausfeld LLP lawyers represented foreign vitamin purchasers in this seminal case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and clarified the scope of jurisdiction for foreign plaintiffs to pursue their claims in U.S. courts.

In 1999, Roche agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Justice a record $500 million fine for leading the worldwide conspiracy to raise and fix prices and allocate market shares for certain vitamins sold in the United States and elsewhere. Certain Roche executives pled guilty, paid criminal fines, and served prison sentences as a result of their participation in the cartel.

In 2001, the European Commission fined Roche €462 million for its role as the “instigator of the cartel” and because it participated in all of the vitamin cartels.

About Hausfeld LLP
Hausfeld LLP, based in Washington, DC, is a global plaintiffs’ law firm providing litigation services in the areas of consumer fraud, antitrust/competition law, human rights violations, product liability, civil rights, and environmental law. In addition to its Washington headquarters, the firm has operations in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and London. For additional information about Hausfeld LLP and its services, please visit http://www.hausfeldllp.com.

For additional information about Rubio, Alvarez, Solis & Abrego and its services, please visit http://www.rasalaw.com/.

The English text of Panama’s Law 19 of 2008 is available at http://www.interamericanbarfoundation.org/PanamaClassActionTextopulldown18.html.
 

More information on this case: Vitamins

Practice Areas: Antitrust / Competition