Jeld-Wen Sues Four Glass Manufacturers, Alleges Price-Fixing

Date: 14 April 2011
Source: AGC Flat Glass North America/Guardian Industries/Pilkington North America/PPG In
Jeld-Wen Inc. has filed suit against four primary glass manufacturers, AGC Flat Glass North America, Guardian Industries, Pilkington North America and PPG Industries, alleging that the defendants “contracted, conspired or combined to fix, raise, maintain or stabilize prices of, and allocate business for, flat glass they sold in the United States during the claim period,” January 1, 2002, through at least December 31, 2006.

The complaint was filed on March 28 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.** In its complaint Jeld-Wen claims the defendants imposed identical surcharges, such as energy surcharges, “when in fact defendants’ energy costs were not uniform and these ‘surcharges’ were a ruse to allow them to raise prices.” Jeld-Wen is seeking “to recover damages, as allowed by law, costs of the suit and a reasonable attorney’s fee …”

Jeld-Wen goes on to claim that “there is a history of collusion in the flat glass industry involving the defendants and/or their predecessors.” The complaint also references court cases in which the defendants have been involved, including a November 2008 European Commission case of the “highest cartel fines the Commission ever imposed for an individual company and for a price fixing cartel as a whole. The European Commission imposed fines totaling [nearly $2 billion USD] on Asahi, Pilkington, Saint-Gobain and Soliver for illegal market sharing …”

According to court documents, in February 2009 a judge denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the amended complaint in the Flat Glass II class action lawsuit. The judge “noted the consolidated complaint alleges:

a. A history of an inability to raise and maintain prices prior to the conspiracy;

b. A history of varying surcharges by region of the country until after June 2002, when defendants did not vary their surcharges by region;

c. That an agreement existed for over 30 months beginning in June 2002 by raising prices by identical percentages and charging energy surcharges in virtual lockstep while providing customers with identical charts and justifications for the same, until February 2005, when the European Commission launched raids upon the European construction flat glass market;

d. Thereafter, defendants did not engage in lock step parallel conduct.”

The complaint goes on to allege that “in a notice of class action settlement dated February 16, 2011, Jeld-Wen was notified of proposed settlements by the class action plaintiffs with the defendants.” As a member of the proposed settlement classes, Jeld-Wen chose to opt out of the proposed settlement and pursue its own claims against the defendants. Jeld-Wen alleges that “the defendants and their co-conspirators engaged in a continuing contract, combination or conspiracy in unreasonable constraint …” Jeld-Wen’s complaint alleges the defendants sought to “raise, fix, stabilize or maintain at artificially high and non-competitive levels the prices of flat glass sold in the United States and allocate business for flat glass.” The complaint goes on to say that because of these alleged actions Jeld-Wen “was deprived of the benefits of free and open competition in the purchase of flat glass and price competition among defendants in the sale of flat glass was restrained, suppressed and eliminated.”

In addition, the court documents say, “As a result of defendants’ unlawful conduct in furtherance of their continuing contract, combination and conspiracy, Jeld-Wen has been injured in its business and property in that it has paid more for flat glass than would have been paid in the absence of defendants’ price fixing and allocation of business. Jeld-Wen has been required to pay artificially inflated prices for flat glass products, including by paying a per truckload energy surcharges imposed by all defendants during the claim period.”

At press time Guardian, Pilkington and PPG had not responded to DWM’s requests for comment. AGC officials declined to comment.

600450 Jeld-Wen Sues Four Glass Manufacturers, Alleges Price-Fixing

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