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Walmart and Energizer Sued for Battery Pricing Scheme


May 1, 2023

Walmart Inc. and Energizer Holdings Inc. schemed to artificially inflate disposable battery prices in violation of antitrust and consumer protection laws, according to at least three proposed class actions filed against them in California.

San Fernando, California-based Portable Power Inc. claims Walmart, the largest disposable battery retailer in the U.S., and Energizer, the largest maker of disposable batteries sold in the U.S., agreed to the scheme in early 2018 to slow price declines because of “a dismal market outlook” for disposable battery products.

According to the suit, Energizer agreed to inflate the wholesale prices it charged Portable Power and other direct-purchase retailers and require them to charge customers at least the same price charged by Walmart, which had agreed to give Energizer products preferential treatment in its stores.

The scheme benefited both Energizer and Walmart, Portable Power said in its proposed class action, filed on Friday.

“Energizer agreed to inflate its wholesale prices to Walmart’s competitors. That enabled Energizer to enjoy inflated prices,” Portable Power said. “It also enabled Walmart to artificially inflate its retail prices for Energizer battery products without being undercut by other retail sellers.”

The arrangement saw Energizer raising its wholesale prices for batteries and Walmart increasing some prices by nearly 20% in the third quarter of 2019 and nearly 40% by the first quarter of 2020, with Energizer continuing to raise prices in 2020 and 2021, according to Portable Power.

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The Copeland plaintiffs are represented by Daniel H. Silverman and Leonardo Chingcuanco of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Sarah Grossman-Swenson and Kimberley C. Weber of McCracken Stemerman & Holsberry LLP.

The article can be read on Law360 (subscription required).