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In Re: Air Cargo Shipping Services Antitrust Litigation

August 2, 2012

IN RE: AIR CARGO SHIPPING SERVICES ANTITRUST LITIGATION


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO:

ALL CASES

This multi-district putative antitrust class action stems from an investigation by governmental authorities of world-wide price-fixing activity in the air cargo industry. Defendants are domestic and foreign airlines that provide airfreight shipping services around the world. Plaintiffs are direct and indirect domestic and foreign purchasers of the allegedly price-fixed airfreight shipping services.

This is the third wave of settlement agreements placed before me for final approval in this case. I have thus far granted final approval of settlements with nine defendants and two interim fee awards. See In re Air Cargo Shipping Servs. Antitrust Litig. ("Air Cargo 1"), No. 06-MD-1775, 2009 WL 3077396 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 25, 2009);*fn1 In re Air Cargo Shipping Servs. Antitrust Litig. ("Air Cargo 2"), No. 06-MD-1775, 2011 WL 2909162 (E.D.N.Y. July 15, 2011).*fn2 Plaintiffs here seek final approval of nine more settlement agreements, eight with air carrier defendants and one with an employee of an air carrier defendant (ECF No. 1719). I here apply the same principles of Air Cargo 1 and Air Cargo 2 to conclude that these settlements should be approved.

Plaintiffs also seek approval of their proposed plan of allocation (ECF No. 1720), as well as an interim fee award of roughly 25% of the gross settlement proceeds obtained since the last fee award on July 15, 2011 (ECF No. 1717). See Air Cargo 2, 2011 WL 2909162. I approve the proposed plan of allocation, and, with the exception of the request for an award of $1 million for future litigation expenses, which is denied, I grant the request for an interim fee award and award $54,415,069.18 in attorneys' fees and $2,098,350.09 in unreimbursed expenses.

BACKGROUND

A. The Settlements

The plaintiffs seek final approval of settlements (the "Third Settlements") with nine defendants: (1) Lan Airlines, S.A., Lan Cargo, S.A., and Aerolinhas Brasileiras, S.A. (collectively, "Lan"); (2) British Airways plc ("British Airways"); (3) South African Airways Ltd. ("South African"); (4) Malaysia Airlines ("Malaysia"); (5) Saudia Arabian Airlines, Ltd ("Saudia"); (6) Emirates Airline d/b/a Emirates ("Emirates"); (7) El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. ("El Al"); (8) Air Canada and AC Cargo LP (collectively, "Air Canada"); and (9) Salvatore Sanfilippo, who is a managerial employee of defendant Air New Zealand ("ANZ").

1. The Terms of Each Settling Defendant's Agreement To Settle

a. Lan

Under its settlement agreement, Lan has paid $66 million, representing 3.23% of its relevant sales during the class period. Lan has also agreed to pay to $150,000 for notice costs and to provide extensive cooperation to the class to aid the class in its claims against the remaining non-settling defendants. The Lan settlement provides for an opt-out escrow account, into which funds representing opt-outs' proportional share of the settlement funds will be deposited, some or all of which will be potentially returned to Lan upon resolution of the opt-outs' individual claims.

b. British Airways

Under its settlement agreement, British Airways has paid $89.512 million, representing 3.3% of its relevant sales during the class period. It has also agreed to pay up to $500,000 for notice costs, and to provide extensive cooperation. The British Airways settlement provides for an opt-out escrow account similar to Lan's.

c. South African

South African has paid $3.29 million, representing 3.5% of its relevant sales during the class period. No portion of the funds will revert to South African, regardless of whether there are opt-outs. ...


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