Cohen & Malad, LLP attorneys are investigating reported antitrust violations in the pricing of ductile iron pipe fittings used in municipal water systems. The United States Federal Trade Commission has filed complaints against the three largest U.S. sellers of ductile iron pipe fittings, McWane, Inc., Star Pipe Products, Ltd., and Sigma Corporation.  The FTC asserts that McWane, Star Pipe, and Sigma illegally conspired to engage in price-fixing, and that McWane illegally maintained its monopoly power in the market for U.S.-made ductile iron pipe fittings.  Cohen & Malad, LLP is investigating the possible recovery of illegal overcharges charged to businesses by the participants in these alleged conspiracies.

According to the FTC, McWane, Sigma and Star conspired to raise and fix prices for imported ductile iron pipe fittings.  Between January 2008 and January 2009, the FTC stated that the three firms fixed their prices for imported ductile iron pipe fittings, and exchanged information documenting the volume of their monthly sales through a trade association called the Ductile Iron Fittings Research Association (DIFRA) to monitor whether the other co-conspirators were adhering to the terms of their collusive arrangement.

The FTC also alleges that McWane and Sigma violated the antitrust laws to take unfair advantage of Congress’ decision to allocate more than $6 billion to U.S. water infrastructure projects through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The ARRA required that only domestically produced materials, such as ductile iron pipe fittings, be used in many ARRA-funded projects.  According to the FTC, McWane and Sigma violated the law by participating in an agreement through which Sigma shared in a portion of McWane’s monopoly profits rather than enter the domestic DIPF market as an independent competitor to McWane.

Sigma Corporation has entered an agreement with the FTC to resolve the charges against it, and has agreed not to engage in similar anticompetitive tactics in the future. The FTC’s complaint against McWane and Star will be heard before an administrative law judge later this year.  These cases may result in fines and injunctive relief, but are not expected to recover any overcharges for artificially inflated prices that were paid by the purchasers of ductile iron pipe fittings during the time of the alleged conspiracies.

If you have purchased a ductile iron pipe fitting directly from McWane, Star Pipe Products, and/or Sigma Corporation, you may have a civil claim for price-fixing or other antitrust violations.  Under the laws of the United States, a direct purchaser that suffers losses caused by price-fixing or other violations of the antitrust laws is entitled to three times the amount of their damages.

Cohen & Malad, LLP is investigating the FTC’s price-fixing and other antitrust allegations against McWane, Star Pipe Products, and/or Sigma Corporation.  Our firm has extensive experience pursuing price-fixing and other complex claims on behalf of injured businesses.  We would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you any possible claims your company may have as a result of price-fixing and other antitrust violations in the market for iron pipe fittings.

There is no charge for this consultation, and you have no obligation to us.  In the event that we agree to bring a lawsuit on your behalf, you will pay no attorneys’ fees or expenses unless we recover.  If you would like more information about your own potential claim for compensation, please contact us via email or call us toll free at 1-866-446-7478. v