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Jury orders Dow Chemical to pay $400 million in price-fixing case

By Andrew Longstreth

(Reuters) - A federal jury has ordered Dow Chemical Co to pay $400 million 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 class action lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to fix urethane chemical prices, but it was the only defendant not to settle.

Last month, it went to trial in a federal court in Kansas City.

The plaintiffs, purchasers of urethane chemicals, had sought more than $1 billion in damages from Dow.

If the $400 million verdict is approved by the judge overseeing the case, it could be tripled under federal antitrust law.

David Bernick, an attorney for Dow, said that the company would seek to dismiss the lawsuit in a post-trial motion.

Separately, Dow said in a statement late on Wednesday that it was disappointed the jury found price fixing conduct during part of the time frame at issue, and that it continues to deny those allegations.

The plaintiffs had sought damages for a five-year conspiracy, but the jury did not find Dow liable for the full five years, he said.

"We think it's very clear that the jury rejected the five-year class conspiracy claim and there was no other claim," Bernick said.

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

"The people of Kansas administered justice, consistent with the evidence," Goldberg said.

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 Andrew Longstreth, additional reporting by Erin Geiger Smith both in New York and Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Carol Bishopric and Daniel Magnowski)

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