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Water authority accuses alum manufacturers of conspiracy

By Robbie Hargett | Jan 6, 2016


MINNEAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) – An Alabama water authority is suing several manufacturers of liquid aluminum sulfate (alum) over claims of a conspiracy to fix prices of the chemical.

Mobile Area Water and Sewer System (MAWSS), individually and for all others similarly situated, filed a class-action lawsuit Dec. 23 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota against Hawkins Inc., Frank A. Reichl, General Chemical Corp., General Chemical Performance Products, GenTek Inc., Chemtrade Logistics Income Fund, Chemtrade Logistics, GEO Specialty Chemicals, C&S Chemicals, USALCO LLC, Thatcher Group, Kemira Chemicals, Southern Ionics and John Does 1-50, alleging antitrust injury, fraudulent concealment, and violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

The defendants manufacture and distribute alum–a chemical that functions as a coagulant, flocculant, precipitant, and emulsion breaker–to municipalities to treat potable water and wastewater, as well as to other entities to for various other purposes.

The suit states the defendants participated in a long-running conspiracy to rig bids, allocate customers and artificially fix, raise, stabilize and/or maintain prices of alum sold in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Justice has an active and ongoing investigation into the defendants' conspiratorial conduct, according to the suit.

This suit is brought so that MAWSS and others who purchased alum from the defendants from Jan. 1, 1997, to July 31, 2010, may seek to recover damages.

MAWSS and others in the class seek damages and other monetary relief, interests, attorney fees and other costs of the suit. It is represented by attorney Janet C. Evans of Gray Plant Mooty Mooty & Bennett in Minneapolis; attorneys Brian R. Strange and Morvareed Z. Salehpour of Strange & Butler in Los Angeles; attorneys James E. Atchison and Donald G. Beebe of The Atchison Firm in Mobile, Alabama; attorney M. Stephen Dampier of The Dampier Law Firm in Fairhope, Alabama; and attorney R. Edward Massey Jr. of Clay Massey & Associates in Mobile, Alabama.

U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota Case number 0:15-CV-04498-ADM-JJK

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Organizations in this Story

U.S. Department of JusticeMobile Area Water and Sewer SystemHawkins IncGeneral Chemical CorpGenTek IncChemtrade LogisticsGEO Specialty ChemicalsC&S ChemicalsUSALCO LLCThatcher Technology GroupKemira ChemicalsSouthern IonicsGray Plant Mooty & BennettStrange & ButlerThe Atchison FirmDampier Law FirmClay, Massey & Associates, P.C