Drywall manufacturers sued for price-fixing
At least eight manufacturers of drywall have been sued by building contractors, lumber yards and homeowners who say they were charged to much for materials. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers since December. Plaintiffs say that the manufacturers raised their prices in concert beginning in September 2011 in such a way that it could only have been coordinated.
The market for drywall, according to the lawsuits, is particularly sensitive to the possibility of price-fixing since it is so important in building construction. More than 90 percent of new buildings have drywall boards for their walls and ceilings, and there is no alternative product with drywall. The suits are the second major legal dispute to come up against drywall manufactures. A federal judge in New Orleans has been hearing cases involving important drywall since 2009.
The lawsuits say that five of the eight major drywall makers raised their prices by the same amount, roughly 35 percent, at t the same time, beginning in September or October 2011. Plaintiffs also say that at the same time or within weeks of one another, the manufacturers also stopped using a system that put price stability into the construction industry.
Several manufacturers have responded to the suits, saying the allegations of price-fixing are baseless and that they intend to defend the prices changes in court. Drywall makers, according to a spokesperson from National Gypsum, do not coordinate their prices, but simply match the market, much the way gasoline stations do.
Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, “After prices went up 35 percent, lawsuits chase drywall makers,” David Ingram, March 27, 2013