Jeld-Wen Files Suit Against Glass Makers

April 12, 2011

Four of North America's five flat glass makers are named in a price-fixing suit filed by Jeld-Wen Inc. at the end of March. The Oregon-based window and door manufacturer's complaint alleges that AGC America Inc., Guardian Industries Corp., Pilkington North America and PPG Industries "contracted, conspired or combined to fix, raise, maintain or stabilize prices of, and allocate business for, flat glass they sold in the U.S." over a period from the beginning of 2002 to at least the end of 2006.

Jeld-Wen paid "artificially inflated prices" on approximately $100 million in glass purchases during that period, it claims. 

Filed in the U.S. District Court in Medford, Ore., the suit points to the imposition of identical surcharges to offset increased prices of natural gas and electricity, "when in fact, defendants' energy costs were not uniform and these 'surcharges' were a ruse to allow them to raise prices." Charging restraint of trade and commerce under the Sherman Act, the court papers say the defendants "communicated in face-to-face meetings and otherwise" and "agreed on flat glass prices and allocation of business."

The document outlines "a history of collusion in the flat glass industry" involving the defendents and/or their predecessor companies.  In addition to cases Jeld-Wen has settled with various glass makers in the past, the complaint points to a 2007 European Commission ruling against glass manufacturers there and a 2008 class action suit filed against North American flat glass manufacturers.

The suit notes that Jeld-Wen has elected to opt out of a proposed settlement to that case, which is still pending in the Eastern Pennsylvania District Court.

Submitted by Deborah Crabbe of Foster Pepper PLLC, the Seattle attorneys representing Jeld-Wen, the court papers do not say the exact amount of damages the window and door manufacturer incurred as a result of the price fixing.  The company is seeking treble damages, recovery of the costs of the suit and an end to the plaintiffs' unlawful conduct.

Jeld-Wen and Pilkington officials declined to comment on the case.  AGC, Guardian and PPG have not responded to requests for further comment as of yet.