Antonin Scalia’s death just cost Dow Chemical $835 million

Image: Reuters/Brendan McDermid
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Dow Chemical, which was angling for the US Supreme Court to dismiss a $1.06 billion judgment against the company for alleged price-fixing, has now agreed to settle the case for $835 million instead of waiting on an answer from the high court. The reason? After the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia earlier this month, Dow didn’t like its odds so much anymore.

“Growing political uncertainties due to recent events within the Supreme Court and increased likelihood for unfavorable outcomes for business involved in class action suits have changed Dow’s risk assessment of the situation,” the company said in a statement.

The antitrust case against Dow went to the Supreme Court after a 2013 finding, by a lower court in Kansas, that the company colluded with four other chemical makers to fix the price of urethane and overcharge clients from the late 1990s to early 2000s.

Scalia was a strong supporter of limiting class action lawsuits against companies. In his absence, other businesses are likely also recalculating their odds of success at the Supreme Court. Important outstanding cases involve Spokeo, Microsoft, and Tyson Foods.

Just to be clear, Dow isn’t admitting it did anything wrong by settling. The company “continues to strongly believe that it was not part of any conspiracy and the judgment was fundamentally flawed as a matter of class action law.”

What it seems to believe less strongly: that a majority of a Supreme Court sans Scalia would agree.