NEW YORK A federal judge has denied a six-month extension to a group of large steel mills and distributors named in a lawsuit brought by MM Steel LP alleging they conspired to drive MM Steel out of the market.
Fulshear, Texas-based steel service center MM Steel filed the suit in April 2012 in U.S. District Court in Texas, claiming that a number of large steel mills and service centersincluding Nucor Corp., Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co., Chapel Steel Corp., American Alloy Steel Inc. and president Arthur J. Moore, JSW Steel USA Inc. and SSAB Enterprises LLC d/b/a SSAB Americascolluded to drive it out of the distribution business by refusing to supply the company with steel (amm.com, April 23, 2012).
Earlier this week, the defendants requested a six-month extension on all the deadlines in the antitrust suit, arguing that MM Steel had submitted too large a volume of documents a little over a month before the June 1 end of the evidentiary discovery period.
U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt granted the defendants a four-month extension to the evidentiary discovery period but without changing any other dates, including a December trial date. The ending period for evidentiary discovery is now set for Sept. 30.
Although both sides are working through hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, some evidence has been made public. MM Steels original complaint cites an e-mail Moore allegedly sent to employees, which MM Steel said is evidence of a group boycott.
"I dont give up easily on ones that I know are not worthy of being in this business, so I will continue to go all extremes with ones I know to make the trip a rough one (for plaintiff MM Steel)," Moore wrote in the e-mail, according to the complaint. "We will sell at cost, if necessary, to take business away from these bums. I plan to have a conversation with the president of Reliance."
American Alloy Steel denied the charges in its motion to dismiss the case last summer (amm.com, July 26), saying that it had not broken antitrust laws but had decided not to do business with MM Steel, alleging that MM Steels ownersformer American Alloy Steel employees Mike Hume and Matt Schultzhad taken information from the company.
"MMs principals are considered pariahs in the steel industry, and for good reason," American Alloy Steel said in the dismissal motion, which accused the owners of taking American Alloy Steels customer lists, bid numbers and trade secrets when they left American Alloy in 1999. "(American Alloy president) Art Moore refuses to do business with (them)."
"We intend to vigorously prosecute the case," said Mo Taherzadeh, counsel for MM Steel.
Counsel for Nucor declined to comment. Counsel for Reliance, American Alloy, SSAB and JSW Steel could not be reached for comment.