Olin, OxyChem Must Face Cartel Pricing Suit

Olin, Occidental Chemical, and three other top manufacturers of industrial-grade lye can’t dodge claims that they conspired on 13 separate price increases since 2015, a federal judge in Buffalo, NY, ruled.

“Defendants argue that plaintiffs’ allegations do not show parallel behavior, and even if they do, defendants’ actions are explainable as normal responses to market forces,” Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford wrote March 27. “The court is not persuaded.”

A proposed class action lawsuit filed in New York claims the leading manufacturers of sodium hydroxide, commonly known as caustic soda or lye, have artificially inflated the prices of the substance since October 2015. 

Citing alleged violations of federal antitrust law, the lawsuit claims the defendants, Olin Corporation, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Westlake Chemical Corporation, Shin-Etsu Chemical, Formosa Plastics Corporation, and several of their respective subsidiaries, have, through an illegal cartel, caused direct purchasers of caustic soda to pay more than they would have paid absent the manufacturers’ anticompetitive activities.

Caustic soda, according to the case, is a common substance used in a variety of industries, including paper, chemical production, soaps, aluminum, food processing, water treatment, textiles, mineral oils, recycling, and pharmaceuticals.

The lawsuit argues that caustic soda prices, which have allegedly risen more than 50 percent since 2015, do not reflect true market conditions and can only be a result of anti-competitive actions on the defendants’ part.

Full Content: Bloomberg

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.