Grant & Eisenhofer Best To Lead Class, Zinc Buyers Say

Four zinc purchasers on Tuesday urged a New York federal court to appoint law firms Grant & EisenhoferKessler Topaz and Lovell Stewart as interim co-lead counsel in their proposed price-fixing class action against the London Metal Exchange Ltd. and others, saying they did the leg work to justify the honor.

Duncan Galvanizing Corporation, Oklahoma Steel and Wire Co., Inc., Iowa Steel and Wire Co., and Southwestern Wire, Inc., who are among the plaintiffs who accuse the LME, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. of conspiring to set prices for zinc, asked the court to deny another plaintiff’s request to appoint Gold Bennett Cera & Sidener LLP for the lead role, saying their own attorneys did all the work to put together the complex case.

The Duncan Group of plaintiffs said that in order to file the first two 60-page class action complaints, which they allege Gold Bennett copied for its own complaint, its counsel had to engage in substantial research and investigation and significant legal and economic analysis in order to build a case.

“[Gold Bennett’s] attempt to brush aside all that expensive hard work is not well taken,” the Duncan Group said.

A representative from Gold Bennett was not available Wednesday for comment.

In July the Galvanizers Co. filed a motion to appoint Gold Bennett as interim co-lead counsel for the proposed class, about a month after Duncan filed the first antitrust lawsuit which was then followed by a suit brought by Oklahoma Steel, Iowa Steel and Southwestern Wire. The companies all alleged that the defendants had manipulated the U.S. price for zinc since 2010 in a fashion akin to their alleged scheme to fix the price of aluminum.

The suits, which also names commodities trading firm Glencore Xstrata PLC, its storage unit Pacorini Metals USA LLC, and Goldman’s Metro International Trade Services LLC, among others, claims the banks and warehousing operators worked in concert with the LME, a private rulemaking and price-setting organization, to control the flow of zinc from warehouses.

By managing the supply of zinc into and out of LME warehouses, the financial companies and its partners were able to control premiums charged for zinc in the entire relevant market, according to the suits.

On July 9 Galvanizers’ attorneys argued in their motion that although Gold Bennett only recently had been retained by Galvanizers and did not have the opportunity to add “any significant new detail to the previously filed complaints,” the firm has significant experience as part of the executive committee of counsel in the aluminum price-fixing MDL.

“[Gold Bennett] is very familiar with the investigations and public information regarding the alleged manipulation of warehouses for the purpose of restraining supplies and inflating premiums associated with several commodities, including aluminum and zinc,” the attorneys said.

The allegations of the complaints on file in the zinc matter, they said, “are substantially similar and are based on public information.”

But the Duncan Group argued that the “public information” came from the substantial investment of time and money their attorneys made in building the zinc scheme case. They also argued that their attorneys have led the charge in moving the case forward by drafting a series of court filings and continuing the investigation “with an eye toward preparing a consolidated complaint and commencing discovery.”

The Duncan Group said its attorneys are not opposed to working with Gold Bennett, noting that they have coordinated in the past and intend future coordination with attorneys at that firm “in the best interests of the class.”

The purchasers’ suits seek to represent any U.S. purchaser of zinc from May 2010 to the present — a period during which the price of the commodity nearly tripled to more than $9 per pound, the complaints said.

About 12 million tons of zinc are produced annually worldwide, more than half of which is used for galvanizing to protect steel and other metals from corrosion, according to the suit.

The Duncan Group are represented by Linda P. Nussbaum and Peter A. Barile III of Grant & Eisenhofer PA, Gary S. Jacobson, Christopher Lovell and Benjamin M. Jaccarino of Lovell Stewart Halebian & Jacobson LLP, Robert J. Bonsignore of Bonsignore LLC, Joseph H. Meltzer, Kimberly A. Justice and Terence S. Ziegler of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP, Hannah Elizabeth Ross of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP, Jack Mattingly Jr and Jason E. Roselius of Mattingly & Roselius PLLC and Bradley D. Brickell of Brickell & Associates PC.

Galvanizers Co. is represented by Michael Eisenkraft and Manuel John Dominguez of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Solomon B. Cera, C. Andrew Dirksen and Pamela A. Markert of Gold Bennett Cera & Sidener LLP.

LME is represented by Margaret M. Zwisler of Latham & Watkins LLP. Additional counsel information was not available Wednesday.

The case is Oklahoma Steel and Wire Co. Inc. et al. v. Glencore Xstrata PLC et al., case number 1:14-cv-04290, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

–Additional reporting by Alex Lawson and Vin Gurrieri. Editing by Richard McVay.For a reprint of this article, please contact [email protected].

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