Three companies have agreed to pay $125 million to settle claims that they conspired to raise prices on drywall.
A preliminary motion to approve the settlement is scheduled to be filed this month, said David Young, a partner at Washington, D.C.-based Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, a lead plaintiffs firm in the litigation that announced the deal on Tuesday. The firm, along with Philadelphia’s Berger & Montague and Spector Roseman & Kodroff, represents direct purchasers such as drywall distributors and installers.
“Coming out of the Great Recession, demand for drywall, the stuff that goes up on our walls and ceilings, was low,” Young said. Then in the fall of 2011, drywall manufacturers announced a 30 percent price increase that buyers had to pay in 2012 and 2013. “Suddenly, despite the market being super weak and capacity being really high, this price increase actually stuck.”
National Gypsum, Eagle Materials Inc. and PABCO Building Products were the last of seven defendants in multidistrict litigation that began in 2013. Previous settlements with three other companies—Lafarge North America Inc., TIN Inc. (or Temple-Inland) and USG Corp.—bring the total amount of settlements for direct purchasers in the case to nearly $191 million. In 2016, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment as to a seventh defendant, CertainTeed Corp.
In August, Baylson granted certification of a class of 14,000 direct purchasers.
“We certainly viewed that as a positive development, and moving the case forward, it left not a lot between us and trial date,” Young said.
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