News & Press Coverage
September 4, 2020

Federal Indictments Follow Long-Running Antitrust Class Action in Ready-Mix Concrete Industry

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that a federal grand jury in Savannah, Georgia, indicted a ready-mix concrete company and four individuals for fixing prices, rigging bids, and allocating customers and markets in violation of antitrust laws.

The indictment charges Evans Concrete, LLC; James Clayton Pedrick; Gregory Hall Melton; John “David” Melton; and Timothy “Bo” Strickland with conspiring to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate markets for the sale of ready-mix concrete used in residential, commercial, and public projects in Georgia and South Carolina. Pedrick is also charged with making false statements, and Strickland is charged with making false statements and perjury.

The criminal charges come after the filing of a related civil class action case for price fixing and bid rigging in November 2017. In that case, Pro Slab, Inc. et al. v. Argos USA, Inc. et al., pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, the Court appointed three law firms as interim co-lead counsel for a proposed class of direct purchasers of ready-mix concrete from the defendants: Cohen & Malad, LLP; Heins Mills & Olson, PLC; and Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios LLP. Karon LLC also represents the plaintiffs.  

In September 2019, the Court denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss. Since then, the interim co-lead counsel have been actively taking discovery from defendants. The defendants are: Argos USA LLC; Argos Ready Mix LLC; Lafarge North America, Inc., Coastal Concrete Southeast II, Thomas Concrete, Inc.; Thomas Concrete of South Carolina, Inc.; Evans Concrete, LLC; Elite Concrete LLC; Troy D. Baird; and Hurley Cook, III aka Trey Cook. The Third Amended Complaint alleges that, during the class period, Gregory Melton and Pedrick were with Argos and Lafarge at various times, Strickland was with Evans, and David Melton, Baird, and Cook were with Elite. The proposed class consists of direct purchasers of ready-mix concrete from the defendants since January 1, 2010.

One of the interim co-lead counsel, Scott Gilchrist, said, “The criminal indictments allege a scheme that is familiar to us from our investigation. We think the grand jury’s indictment is an important step toward recovering overcharges for our class members.” Interim co-lead counsel Renae Steiner added, “Our case has been proceeding alongside the DOJ’s investigation for some time. Fortunately, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Court has held regular telephonic status conferences to keep the civil case moving forward.” Another interim co-lead counsel, Greg Hansel said, “It’s important that antitrust violations like these be addressed in both the civil and criminal courts. While the DOJ prosecutes these indictments we will keep fighting on behalf of concrete customers to recover overcharges.”

In many antitrust cases, civil cases and criminal cases proceed in parallel fashion. In criminal cases, DOJ regularly seeks criminal penalties including incarceration and fines. In civil cases, class actions often recover damages allowed under the federal antitrust laws on behalf of direct purchasers. Under the Sherman Act, in appropriate cases, civil plaintiffs may recover three-times the overcharge due to a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids. While in some cases the criminal case is announced first, here the civil case has been pending for nearly three years on behalf of the proposed class of victims.

Firm Highlights

Press Coverage

More Reminders of the Shortcomings of Maine’s Freedom of Access Law

As part of an editorial marking Sunshine Week , the annual celebration started by the American Society of News Editors to recognize the importance of open government, Preti Flaherty attorney Sig Schutz is quoted by the  Bangor...

Publication

H-2B Temporary Visas: Additional 35,000 Coming in Second Half of FY 2022

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced the forthcoming publication of a joint temporary final rule to make available an additional 35,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas...

Press Coverage

From Maine to Kushan: Teaching the U.S. Legal System in China

Preti Flaherty attorney Jeff Thaler was recently the subject of an essay written by one of his former students at Duke Kushan University (DKU). In 2019, Jeff spent time at DKU serving as a...

Publication

What Are My Options If My H-1B Registration Was Not Selected?

The H-1B nonimmigrant visa category allows employers to sponsor foreign nationals performing work in a “specialty occupation.” This typically requires an offer of employment in a job requiring at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree...

News

Attorney Crystal L. Bulges Joins Preti Flaherty’s Environmental Practice Group

Preti Flaherty is pleased to announce that attorney Crystal L. Bulges has joined the firm’s Environmental Practice Group, working in the Portland office. Crystal brings to the firm more than 20 years of experience...

Publication

35,000 Additional H-2B Visas Now Available for the Second Half of Fiscal Year

On May 18, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a temporary rule authorizing the issuance of additional 35,000 H-2B visas for the second half of Fiscal...

News

Preti Flaherty Files Human Trafficking and Forced Labor Lawsuit Against Church of Scientology

Preti Flaherty attorneys Greg Hansel, Shana Solomon, Ellie Quinby, and Katherine Oaks filed a human trafficking and forced labor lawsuit against the Church of Scientology on behalf of three plaintiffs claiming decades of forced...

News

Benchmark Litigation Names Preti Flaherty 2022 “Maine Firm of the Year”

Benchmark Litigation has named Preti Flaherty as 2022 Litigation Firm of the Year in the State of Maine. The Benchmark Awards honor distinguished litigators and law firms in all 50 states and 10 practice...

News

Preti Flaherty Attorney Tim Bryant Selected by Franchise Times as “Legal Eagle”

For the fourteenth consecutive year, Preti Flaherty attorney Tim Bryant has been recognized as a Franchise Times magazine “Legal Eagle.” Nominated by their peers, franchise attorneys chosen for this honor are considered among the...

Publication

Changes Affecting Employment Authorization for L-2, E, and H-4 Dependent Spouses

On November 12, 2021, USCIS announced that L-2 and E dependent spouses are no longer required to apply for an EAD to work in the United States. Instead, L-2 and E dependent spouses are...