A suburban Philadelphia construction company has become the latest plaintiff in a string
of class actions that assert antitrust violations involving alleged price fixing and monopolization of gypsum board, better known as drywall or sheetrock.
Sulock Construction, which is based in Southampton, Bucks County, filed suit on April 1 at the federal court in Philadelphia against CertainTeed Corp., USG Corp., United States Gypsum Co., New NGC Inc., LaFarge North America Inc., Georgia-Pacific LLC, American Gypsum Co., TIN Inc., and PABCO Building Products LLC.
The complaint, which seeks class status, alleges that from at least the fall of 2011 to the present, the defendants engaged in a scheme to fix, raise, maintain and stabilize the price of gypsum board and to abolish the industry’s competitive and long-standing practice of limiting price increases for the duration of a construction project through a process known as “job quotes.”
The defendants, who manufacture and sell most of the gypsum board sold in the United States, not only announced the coordinated price increases, the suit states, but they successfully maintained much higher prices throughout 2012, despite the fact that it has been a soft construction market.
“Defendants also maintained substantially higher prices in the face of significant industry overcapacity that would have made it virtually impossible for any Defendant independently to impose and maintain a substantial price increases [sic] on its customers in the absence of collusion,” the complaint reads.
As for Sulock Construction, the plaintiff in this case, the company claims that it and other class members were injured by the defendants’ alleged unlawful acts in that they have paid more for the product than they would have paid absent the alleged collusion.
The complaint states that the defendants’ unlawful contract, combination or conspiracy has caused price competition in the markets for gypsum board to be artificially restrained and has deprived buyers of gypsum board of the benefit of free and open competition in the markets for the product.
The suit says that the actions of the defendants have violated the federal Sherman Act, which has to do with anti-competitiveness.
In addition to declaratory judgment, the plaintiff seeks treble damages, pre-and-post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees and other court relief.
The complaint was filed by attorneys Howard J. Sedran, Austin B. Cohen and Keith J. Verrier, of the Philadelphia firm Levin Fishbein Sedran & Berman, as well as Conshohocken, Pa. attorney David P. McLafferty of McLafferty & Associates.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-01676-MMB.