This case began after a group of steel companies conspired to drive small new competitor MM Steel out of business through a group boycott.
Steel distributors — including defendants Reliance and American Alloy — conspired with the nation’s largest steel manufacturers including JSW Steel to force MM Steel out of the steel-distribution business by denying it access to steel plate, a product widely used in oil and gas and other applications in the Gulf Coast region. Yetter Coleman represented MM Steel, which sued the distributors and manufacturers in federal court in Houston for violation of the Sherman Act, among other claims. Defense counsel included many of the top national firms.
MM Steel overcame multiple rounds of motions to dismiss and for summary judgment from the defendants. The case went to trial as one of the first per se antitrust cases to proceed to trial in decades. During a month-long jury trial in Houston, MM Steel proved both defendants’ conduct in violation of the antitrust laws but also its significant damages: had defendants allowed MM Steel to compete, it would have earned substantial profits. The firm secured a unanimous jury verdict in MM Steel’s favor on all claims and a damages award of $54 million, which was trebled by the court to $160 million with attorneys’ fees. The verdict was ranked the #1 U.S. and Texas antitrust verdict and the #3 overall verdict in Texas in 2014.
In addition, Yetter Coleman successfully defended the verdict from post-trial and appellate efforts to overturn it. Defendants appealed the verdict to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. Both courts rejected JSW Steel’s appeal, and our clients settled with other defendants. MM Steel recovered over $100 million in the litigation.