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De Beers Antitrust Class Action Now Final

By Rob Bates, Senior Editor
Posted on May 23, 2012
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De Beers Antitrust Class Action Now Final

Your check may—finally—be in the mail.

The four-year-old De Beers antitrust class action settlement is just about final, after an appellant had his “motion for reconsideration” denied by the Supreme Court on May 21. The Court first rejected the appeal on April 2.

“It’s all wrapped up,” plaintiff lawyer Jared Stamell tells JCK. “There are no more appeals.”

Stamell says the members of the direct class—referring to trade companies that purchased directly from De Beers—should start receiving their checks within 45 to 60 days. But at press time he wasn’t sure when the rest of the checks would be sent.

“We are trying to do everything as quickly as possible,” Stamell says. “But it will take a little time.”

Another plaintiff attorney, Joseph J. Tabacco, Jr., says that the first trade checks should be sent out in June, and the consumer checks will be sent later this summer.

De Beers’ director of communciations David Prager says the company is “very pleased” that the case is just about finished.

“This normalizes business for De Beers in America,” he says. “If you think about the past century, this is a milestone moment.”

Prager says that while nothing will change right away, the completion of the case will allow De Beers a lot more freedom in how it does business in the U.S.

“A lot of the past restrictions we have had previously are now gone,” he says. “It is no secret that it was very difficult for us when we travelled to America. We have clearly not jumped into America with both feet and we have resisted contracting with American companies. When you have normalized business in the States, a lot of those things fall away and you have a lot more opportunities.”

The $300 million settlement was first reached in 2006, and approved by a Federal judge in 2008. But since then it has faced a seemingly never-ending string of delays, as appellants have held up the settlement over questions of jurisdiction and how the class was certified.

In July 2010, a court ruling from the Third Circuit overturned the original settlement. A subsequent decision by the En Banc Panel of the Court of Appeals of the Third Circuit reinstated the decision 10 months later. The appellants then decided to appeal to the Supreme Court.

In addition to mandating that De Beers distribute $300 million to direct and indirect purchasers of diamonds, the settlement also mandates that De Beers refrain from engaging in conduct that violates federal and state antitrust laws. The suit charged that De Beers had monopolized the price of diamonds, and conspired to fix, raise, and control diamond prices. De Beers has denied wrongdoing.

More information is available at diamondsclassaction.com, the informational page for the De Beers class action settlement.

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