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Court ruling against Shell and other defendants relating to $770 million fine for operating a rubber cartel

Bloomberg.com

Dow Chemical Fails to Stop U.K. Cartel Civil Suit

By James Lumley

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) — Dow Chemical Co., the largest U.S. chemicals maker, lost a request for dismissal of a claim brought against it over an alleged European rubber cartel.

Justice Nigel Teare at the High Court in London ruled today that Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., the second-largest U.S. tiremaker, and a group of other companies can sue Dow in the U.K. Lawyers for Dow argued at a hearing earlier this month that the court shouldn’t consider the case because the alleged cartel didn’t operate in England.

Cooper and 25 other companies last year sued Dow, Unipetrol AS, units of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Bayer AG and as many as 20 other companies. The plaintiffs, which make tires and other rubber products, are seeking compensation for losses they claim resulted from antitrust violations.

“I am satisfied that the claimants have a good arguable case that this court has jurisdiction over the Dow defendants,” Teare said in his ruling.

A “limited” number of claims brought against Dow’s Swiss- based Dow Europe unit should be stopped because the unit was sued for the same thing in Italy before the U.K. claim was filed, Teare said.

Unipetrol and units of Shell, Dow Chemical, Eni SpA and Trade-Stomil Sp were fined a total of 519 million euros ($771 million) in a 2006 European Union antitrust case over material used to make tires and shoes.

Shell, Eni and Dow are challenging the antitrust fines at the European Court of First Instance, the European Union’s main antitrust appeals court.

Sue Breach, a Dow spokeswoman, said she couldn’t immediately comment.

The case is: Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. Shell Chemicals U.K. Ltd., 07-1676, U.K. High Court (London).

To contact the reporter on this story: James Lumley in London at [email protected].

Last Updated: October 27, 2009 10:30 EDT

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