(Adds comments from plaintiffs' lawyer, paragraph 4-5 and 10)
By Andrew Longstreth
NEW YORK, April 23 Goldman Sachs Group Inc
, JPMorgan Chase & Co, the London Metal Exchange
and warehouse operators want a judge to throw out lawsuits
saying that from May 2009 they conspired to reduce the supply
and increase the price of aluminum.
They argued in New York federal court motions late on
Tuesday that commercial buyers of aluminum and consumers who
purchased aluminum-based products lacked standing to sue under
antitrust law because they did not store metal in the
defendants' warehouses or trade on the LME.
The lawsuits said that the defendants conspired to delay the
delivery of aluminum from certain warehouses, allowing the LME
and the financial firms to profit.
One of the plaintiff's lawyers, Christopher Lovell of Lovell
Stewart Halebian Jacobson, said his clients were directly
injured by the defendants' conduct, which gives them standing.
Some business were forced to leave the aluminum market because
of the delays, Lovell said.
"That's one of the injuries that results from a violation of
the antitrust laws," Lovell said.
The issue of delays in the U.S. aluminum market has plagued
the industry for years, but captured public and political
attention only last year. The U.S. Department of Justice and the
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission are investigating.
In March, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest allowed
three groups of plaintiffs to file separate lawsuits seeking
class action status: direct purchaser plaintiffs, commercial
end-users and consumer-end users. Forrest has scheduled a
hearing in the case for Friday.
The LME has argued it was protected by the 1976 U.S. Foreign
Sovereign Immunities Act, which limits when a foreign sovereign
may be sued in U.S. courts.
LME said that it is an organ of the United Kingdom,
entitling it to FSIA immunity. Although it is privately owned,
LME argued it is "statutorily tasked with the public regulatory
function of maintaining an orderly market and affording proper
protection to investors."
Lovell said that the plaintiffs "seriously contest" the
LME's claim to immunity.
The case is In Re Aluminum Warehousing Antitrust Litigation,
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-2481.
(Reporting by Andrew Longstreth; Editing by Howard Goller and