Jump to Navigation

News Releases

Victory In Antitrust Class Action Suits

December 8, 2008

HOUSTON (December 8, 2008) --  United States Magistrate Judge Calvin Botley has recommended that motions for class certification be denied in two highly publicized class action antitrust lawsuits targeting the funeral industry. Cliff Gunter and Andy Edison of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP successfully represented Service Corporation International, the world's largest funeral and cemetery company, in the two antitrust cases.

The cases began in 2005 when a consumer advocacy group sued the country's three largest funeral home chains and a leading casket maker, charging that the defendants conspired to keep casket prices high and shut out casket discounters in violation of federal antitrust laws. The two purported class action lawsuits were brought on behalf of casket consumers and independent casket retailers across the United States. Plaintiffs were seeking more than $1 billion in damages. 

Magistrate Botley held a week-long evidentiary hearing on the class certification issues back in December 2006. In a pair of 30-page memorandums issued on November 24, 2008, Magistrate Botley found that the prerequisites to class certification had not been satisfied in either case. Plaintiffs have indicated that they will lodge objections to Magistrate Botley's recommendations with the United States district judge overseeing the case.

"This is an important case," said lead-counsel Gunter. "Plaintiffs are attempting to bring a nationwide antitrust conspiracy claim as a class action. We are very pleased with Magistrate Botley's decision, which is extremely thorough and well-reasoned. We fully expect that it will be adopted by the federal district court and affirmed on appeal."