Stay current on the latest developments from agencies including the CFPB, Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC to advise clients on real-life regulatory situations.
Southwest Airlines Co. settled a multi-district cartel case for $15 million and a promise to help the plaintiffs make their case against the three remaining defendants: American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., and United Continental Holdings Inc.
Southwest, as the first settling defendant, is paying relatively little in cash to exit the lawsuit. But the settlement also involves Southwest turning over “a full account of facts then known to Southwest that are relevant to the claims asserted in the action,” according to the plaintiff’s lawyers.
The airline said Jan. 2 that it settled the class-action consumer claims to avoid the “considerable distraction and expense” of prolonged litigation, according to Bloomberg News.
The plaintiffs’ lead counsel asked the court to approve the settlement on Dec. 29, saying that this first settlement in the case is an “icebreaker” that will help the customers prove the rest of their case through extensive cooperation by Southwest.
The plaintiffs brought 23 consolidated class actions alleging that the four largest commercial air carriers in the U.S. unlawfully agreed among themselves to hold down passenger capacity to drive up fare prices.
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly held in October that the complaints are sufficient to head into discovery, and the parties have been digging through evidence since then.
In addition to the airlines case, Kollar-Kotelly has denied motions to dismiss in four other antitrust-related cases, according to Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics.
The “full account” of facts that Southwest will give the plaintiffs includes pricing and capacity information that should help them prove that the alleged cartel impacted fare prices and establish their damages as the case progresses.
Southwest also pledged to connect the plaintiffs with an industry expert on the domestic airlines industry, help pay for the expert’s time, and work with the plaintiffs on deposing employees and officers in the dispute against the remaining airlines.
The cooperation obligations don’t trigger until the court gives the settlement an initial green light. They are contingent on a fast preliminary approval within 45 days.
The proposed settlement class includes all U.S. air passengers between July 2011 and Dec. 20, 2017.
If Kollar-Kotelly approves the settlement, it will proceed to a full hearing on whether it is fair to all plaintiffs, including class members who aren’t participating in the lawsuit. If judged fair, the settlement will be finally approved by the court.
Hausfeld LLP in Washington and San Francisco, and Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP in Burlingame, Cal., are interim co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. Vinson & Elkins LLP in Houston and Washington represents Southwest Airlines.
The case is In re Domestic Airline travel Antitrust Litigation , D.D.C., No. 15-mc-01404, settlement motion 12/29/17 .
To contact the reporter on this story: Eleanor Tyler in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at email@example.com
Bloomberg Law subscribers can access Litigation Analytics at http://src.bna.com/vmp
Copyright © 2018 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)