- A $75 million settlement to resolve a class-action lawsuit involving allegations of price-fixing by Alcon and Johnson & Johnson has been signed off on by a Florida court.
- The manufacturers were accused of violating federal antitrust law as well as consumer protection and unfair competition laws in various states by implementing unilateral contact-lens price policies.
- Alcon and J&J reached settlements earlier this year, agreeing to pay $20 million and $55 million, respectively, to resolve the cases without admitting liability. The court reviewed and approved the agreement last week.
The agreement closes out a legal dispute that began in 2015 and featured more than 50 class-action complaints before being consolidated for the hearing in Florida. CooperVision, Bausch & Lomb and ABB Optical Group were also targeted by the class-action cases, although they previously agreed to settle in deals worth $3 million, $10 million and $30.2 million, respectively.
Alcon and J&J were the final two holdouts. While Alcon previously said the claims against it were being “vigorously contested,” the company ultimately joined its peers in agreeing to settle the case days before the trial. At $20 million, Alcon’s settlement is the third largest of the agreements.
The contact-lens manufacturers Alcon, Bausch & Lomb, CooperVision and J&J, plus their distributor ABB, were accused of illegally restraining competition by imposing unilateral pricing policies on disposable contact lenses. Through the pricing policies, the companies allegedly sought to eliminate discounting of contact lenses by ensuring all retailers charged the same minimum price.
The defendants continue to deny the existence of a conspiracy and contend that their policies didn’t unreasonably constrain competition. However, starting with CooperVision in 2017 and ending with Alcon and J&J this year, all of the companies agreed to settle rather than argue their case at trial.