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McKool Smith Helps Secure Significant Settlement in Antitrust Class Action Against News Corp.

March 2, 2016

McKool Smith and its co-counsel have secured a $244 million settlement of class action antitrust claims against News Corp. and its affiliates.  The antitrust lawsuit was brought by lead plaintiffs Dial Corporation, Henkel Consumer Goods, Smithfield Foods, Kraft Heinz Co., Foster Poultry Farms, HP Hood, and Bob Evans Foods on behalf of a certified class of more than 500 consumer product makers.  The settlement terms also include structural relief targeted at the Defendants’ contracting practices. 

The Class alleged that News unlawfully acquired and maintained a monopoly on the market for in-store promotion services through a wide array of anticompetitive conduct, including entering into exclusive contracts with retailers.  In-store promotion services involves the placement of various forms of promotional materials (such as shelf signs, floor decals or coupon dispensers) inside retailers like grocery stores.

The settlement terms were reached during the first day of trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. In addition to the $244 million settlement payment, News Corp. agreed to alter its retailer contracting practices. 

“We are very pleased to have obtained substantial relief for the Class,” said McKool Smith principal Lewis T. LeClair, who represents the class as co-lead trial counsel.  “This case served as a model for large complex class actions.  Five firms worked together seamlessly to prosecute this action.  McKool Smith served as liaison counsel and co-lead trial counsel along with Kramer Levin.  Susman Godfrey and Kellogg Huber served as lead class counsel and negotiated the settlement that took place during the first day of trial.  Steve Berry was instrumental in formulating the claims and filing the original case, and he also served as principal liaison with the clients during the case.  And, of course, this all would not have been possible without the dedication and effort of our clients.”  

The News Corp. settlement is the latest in a long list of significant client successes that McKool Smith has achieved over the past year. In 2015, the firm secured a $96 million settlement on behalf of two relators in a False Claims Act lawsuit filed against Education Management Corporation (EDMC) along with $415 million in settlements on behalf of a group of investors in connection with suits involving the collapse of the failed Fontainebleau Resort and Casino project in Las Vegas. On June 9, a final judgement of $663 million was entered for the firm’s client, relator Joshua Harman, against defendant Trinity Industries Inc. in a False Claims Act case. Less than a week earlier, the firm won a $32 million verdict on behalf of the developers of Canyon Ridge Resort against defendants Sterne Agee & Leach, Inc. and one of its former investment bankers.   

The McKool Smith trial team included firm principals Lewis T. LeClair, John C. Briody and James H. Smith.  McKool Smith pursued the action along with co-counsel from Susman Godfrey LLP, Berry Law, Kellogg Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel PLLC and Kramer Levin.

The case is Dial Corp. et al. v. News Corp. et al., case number 1:13-cv-06802, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

With more than 175 trial lawyers across offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Marshall, New York, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C., McKool Smith has established a reputation as one of America’s leading trial firms. Since 2006, the firm has secured nine nine-figure jury verdicts, and ten eight-figure jury verdicts. The firm has also won more VerdictSearch and The National Law Journal "Top 100 Verdicts" over the last eight years than any other law firm in the country. Courtroom successes like these have earned McKool Smith critical acclaim and helped the firm become what The Wall Street Journal describes as “one of the biggest law firm success stories of the past decade.” McKool Smith represents clients in complex commercial litigation, intellectual property, bankruptcy, and white collar defense matters.

For additional information, please contact Michael R. Coston at 212-402-9450 or mcoston@mckoolsmith.com.