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Attorneys $40 million judgment

POSTED: September 29, 2007 5:04 a.m.
Following the prolonged conclusion of a pending antitrust case, there are 40 million reasons why two local attorneys got the better of office supply giant 3M.
J. Noel Osteen and Billy N. Jones, along with the firm of Berry and Leftwich, sued 3M after it monopolized the transparent tape market by diverting business away from direct purchasers and retailers in Pennsylvania, Jones said.
In the case of Bradburn Parent/Teacher Store Inc. v. 3M (which was brought before a Philadelphia Federal Court), U.S. District Judge John R. Padova granted $39.75 million in this class action suit, and awarded Osteen and Jones $15 million this past May for their four years of attorney fees and litigation costs, Jones said.
The antitrust action was sparked 10 years ago when a rival tape supplier named LePage’s sued 3M, and was awarded a lump sum of $70 million, he said.
In the LePage’s case, they proved 3M offered “bundled” rebates to large retailers (like Kmart or Publix), yet these stores could only redeem the rebates by taking LePage's products off the shelves, Jones said.
“3M would offer product A in the rebate program, yet the stores would also have to carry targeted amounts of products B, C and D to acquire the rebate, which, in turn, would push the competitors' products off the shelves,” Jones said.
The illegal tactics outlined in the LePage's case mirrored those of the Bradburn case, and to date, 3M has lost more than $200 million (not including the defense lawyers fees) for this attempted monopolistic strategy, Jones said.
“3M supports the settlement, and is pleased to have it resolved,” the company’s media relations representative, Donna Fleming Runyon, said.
“The suit was a highly complex case, and was litigated up until the point of trial. If not for the settlement, (the Bradburn case) would likely have continued for years in post-trial motions and appeals.”
Jones said he and Osteen were “extremely pleased” with the settlement that benefited the hundreds of people involved in the class action suit.
 

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