Friday, July 10, 2015 - Pentair has reached a $600,000 settlement that will resolve claims against the pool and spa company coordinated with other companies to artificially inflate the cost of supplies manufactured for pool products and accessories. Pentair, along with Hayward Industries Inc. and Zodiac Pool Systems Inc., were accused of colluding in a conspiracy to illegally raise the prices of their products for direct and indirect buyers of their pool equipment in multidistrict litigation centralized in the Eastern District of Louisiana federal court.
Plaintiffs allege that the three companies worked in tandem with Pool Corp. in an effort to keep rival companies from being able to afford products from the supplier. These alleged action took place from January 2008 to July 2013. These moves by Pool Corp. were made in an attempt to control all the distributors of pool supplies nationwide. The lawsuits come from both businesses that purchased poo materials from the larger companies, and individuals that had to pay higher prices when purchasing equipment from the direct buyers.
The pool products that were affected by the alleged price inflation named in the lawsuits were sold in Arizona, California, Florida and Missouri, which is where the lawsuits stem from. The products in question include materials used to maintain and construct swimming pools. These include materials for stairs, railings, pumps, filters, chemicals, and a host of other products that allegedly received inflated prices from the defendants.
The distributors named in the MDL colluded with Pool Corp. and assisted in inflating the prices, which plaintiffs claim was a violation of consumer protection laws. Two main sets of plaintiffs, direct and indirect buyers, brought the claims against Pentair, Hayward and Zodiac. These buyers claimed that the artificial prices charged for pool supplies caused them to pay over-market figures for the products they purchased, and allege that the artificial inflation was conspired upon by the defendants in order to reap larger profits from smaller suppliers.
Settlements have been previously reached with the other tow companies involved in the multidistrict litigation. Hayward Industries Inc. settled with direct purchasers for $6.5 million and with indirect purchasers for $1.5 million. Zodiac Pool Systems Inc. settled with direct purchasers for $3.45 million and with indirect purchasers for $500,000. Those settlements were reached less than a week before the settlement reached with Pentair was announced. Though not included in the MDL against the subsidiary suppliers, class action antitrust lawsuits have been filed against Pool Corp. for their involvement in the alleged price inflation conspiracy named in the MDL. The settlement deals were presided over and approved by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah S. Vance, who is also the chair of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.
The $600,000 settlement Pentair agreed to resolves claim made by indirect purchasers against the pool company. Pentair did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the deal. The settlements will go toward reimbursing businesses adversely affected by the defendants‘ antitrust behaviors. Up to a third of the awards from Pentair are eligible to be paid out as lawyers fees.