Sources: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami; CP staff
Court documents indicate Florida Cement and Concrete Antitrust Litigation, a case emanating from a series of October-November 2009 complaints alleging a decade-long, price-fixing conspiracy among major Sunshine State cement, ready mixed and block producers, will be mapped out this month with a status conference. It enables plaintiff and defense counsel to confer with the judge on the organization of the suit and a schedule for defendantsÌ motions to dismiss, followed by discovery and class-certification phases.
Filed on behalf of about 20 builders, contractors and independent producers, the original complaints named Florida's nine major cement and concrete operators as defendants in an alleged conspiracy to fix material and product prices and allocate markets across the state. The complaints were consolidated in December under a court-designated In Re Florida Cement and Concrete Antitrust Litigation heading, with preliminary action scheduled this month. A consolidated amended complaint, filed Jan. 7, names 10 plaintiffs and 10 defendants.
Motion to dismiss and other formal actions scheduled during the status conference could carry well into 2010. Leading antitrust law authority Donald Klawiter, partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, tells Concrete Products that motions to dismiss in cases such as Florida Cement were often denied prior to the Supreme Court's 2007 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly ruling. Since then, he adds, plaintiffs alleging antitrust violations have faced a higher pleading threshold--the standard of plausibility--in order for their cases to survive motion to dismiss.