On January 3, 2019, the Honorable Edmund E. Chang of the Northern District of Illinois granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification against defendants Kraft Food Group, Inc. and Mondelēz Global LLC. The case arises out of the defendants’ alleged manipulation of the CBOT wheat futures market from November 1 through December 14, 2011, and the class of plaintiffs includes those who traded in those futures and the related options market.
In its ruling, the court rejected each of defendants’ attempts to challenge class certification, agreeing with plaintiffs’ position that defendants’ arguments were premature and mischaracterized plaintiffs’ false-signal theory of liability. Ultimately, Judge Chang did not allow the class-certification stage to devolve into a “preemptive determination of the merits,” holding that the answers to those merits questions were irrelevant to deciding the class certification motion.
In addition to granting certification, Judge Chang also denied defendants’ motion to exclude plaintiffs’ expert, Dr. Craig Pirrong, rejecting defendants’ attempts to “foist[ ] on plaintiffs a requirement to prove loss causation in order to obtain class certification.” Instead, Judge Chang upheld Dr. Pirrong’s event study at this stage, siding with plaintiffs that the relevant factor was whether “proof of the damages caused by the scheme will either fail or succeed on a class-wide basis.”
This decision is another significant victory in the case for Lowey, who serves as co-lead counsel in this matter alongside Lovell Stewart Halebian Jacobson LLP.