A&S Liquidating Inc. has filed a class-action lawsuit
accusing Charlotte Pipe & Foundry Co. and McWane Inc. and
their subsidiaries of conspiring to fix prices in the cast iron
soil pipe and fittings market.
"This case alleges a
conspiracy among all defendants to fix, raise, maintain and
stabilize prices for cast iron soil pipe and fittings that they
sold directly to plaintiff and other class members, which began
at least as early as Jan. 1, 2006, and continues through the
present," attorneys from San Francisco-based Gold, Bennett,
Cera & Sidener LLP said in a filing in U.S. District Court
A&S Liquidating, which purchased the products from the
defendants through its predecessor company, A&S Supply Co.
Inc., also alleges that Charlotte Pipes 2010 acquisition
and liquidation of Star Pipe Products Ltd.s cast iron
soil pipe and fittings business was made to "lessen competition
in the ... market and to pave the way for Charlotte Pipe and
McWane to continue to fix and set prices."
The Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) earlier this year released for public comment
a proposed consent order settling alleged anti-competition
charges over Charlotte Pipes purchase of Star Pipe (
amm.com, April 3) The order prohibited Charlotte
Pipe "from enforcing a confidentiality and noncompete agreement
with Star Pipe, ensures that (the company) will publicly
disclose its prior acquisitions of other (soil pipe) importers
and requires (the company) to notify the commission before
making future acquisitions."
A spokeswoman for
Birmingham, Ala.-based McWane in an e-mail called the lawsuit
"completely baseless," noting that the FTC had already
"conducted a thorough investigation of this industry and the
activities of (trade association) Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute
and closed their investigation with no action against the trade
association or our company."
She added that "this
latest case is nothing more than predatory litigation with no
factual or legal basis. We will aggressively defend this case
and will prevail."
Charlotte Pipe could not be reached for comment.
McWane and Charlotte
Pipe control more than 90 percent of the cast iron soil pipe
and fittings market, according to the lawsuit.