W.B. David Case Against De Beers Revived After Appeal

Defrocked sightholder W.B. David’s nine-year-old compliant against De Beers received a new—albeit limited—lease on life on Jan. 10, when an appeals court judge ruled that one of its claims could proceed.

After losing its regular diamond allocation in 2003 under De Beers’ Supplier of Choice policy, W.B. David—a once-prominent, now-defunct, New York City diamond company—sued De Beers the following year for $100 million, charging violations of antitrust statutes and RICO laws. In 2011, the case, now in the hands of the company’s Chapter 7 trustee, was thrown out of court after a judge ruled that the grounds for the case kept shifting, and new complaints fell subject to the statute of limitations.

Following an appeal, however, a panel of three judges ruled that certain aspects of the case had been consistent, and could proceed.

“One claim appears in all three complaints: that De Beers ‘sight’ system was, or was an attempt or conspiracy to create, an unlawful restraint of trade and/or unlawful monopoly,” the ruling said. “The District Court … erred in dismissing [this claim] on statute of limitations grounds.”

The trustee had also wanted De Beers’ initial default reinstated. When the case was first filed, De Beers didn’t answer the charges, claiming it had no U.S. presence.

But the court ruled that the default could be vacated because of a “general preference for resolving disputes on the merits.”

De Beers and its lawyers did not respond to a request for comment from JCK. Yann Geron, an attorney for W.B. David’s chapter 7 trustee, said the trustee “is pleased at the reinstatement of certain of her claims against De Beers by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and looks forward to prosecuting those claims to their fullest extent for the benefit of the creditors of W.B. David.”

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