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Judge orders Dow Chemical to pay $1.2 billion in price-fixing case

By Casey Sullivan

(Reuters) - A federal judge in Kansas City, Kansas, ordered Dow Chemical Co on Wednesday to pay $1.2 billion in a price-fixing case involving chemicals used to make foam products in cars, furniture and packaging, according to court documents.

Dow was one of several chemical company defendants named in a 2005 class action lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to fix urethane chemical prices, but it was the only defendant not to settle.

In January, Dow went to trial in Kansas City and in February a federal jury rendered a $400 million verdict against the chemical company after finding that it conspired to fix prices of urethane.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum denied Dow's request to overturn that verdict and the $400 million in damages were tripled under U.S. antitrust law, bringing Dow's overall payment to $1.2 billion.

David Bernick, an attorney for Dow, said he would appeal the judgment, saying the statistical formula used by an expert to calculate the price-fixing was not reliable.

"Dow looks forward to pursuing these and other grounds for reversal in its appeal," a Dow spokesman said in a news release. "Dow has always denied plaintiffs' allegations of price fixing."

Joe Goldberg, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he was pleased with the judgment.

"The jury found the conspiracy caused approximately $400 million in damages to thousands of businesses around the United States," said Goldberg.

Other defendants in the case have settled. In 2006 Bayer AG agreed to pay $55 million. In 2011 Huntsman International LLC agreed to pay $33 million and BASF Corp agreed to pay $51 million. In settling, none of the companies admitted any wrongdoing.

The case is In Re Urethane Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas, 04-md-01616.

(Reporting By Casey Sullivan; Editing by Bill Trott)

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