Manufacturer Settles Anti-Trust Suit

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Hayward Industries, one of four defendants in a long-running anti-trust case, has agreed to an $8 million out-of-court settlement, pending court approval.

The $8 million settlement included a $1.5 million deal with consumers and a $6.5 million deal with a group of distributors to settle their allegations that Hayward conspired in conjunction with PoolCorp to restrict the supply of pool products. 

The distributors claimed their business was harmed by collusion between PoolCorp and Big Three manufacturers Hayward, Pentair and Zodiac. The distributors said PoolCorp pressured the Big Three to exclude them from the supply chain, and that PoolCorp’s market share was so large, the manufacturers assented to the scheme. The distributors said exclusion by the three dominant pool manufacturers severely hampered their ability to compete.

This group of distributors is defined by those that purchased products directly from PoolCorp between Nov. 22, 2007 and Nov. 21, 2011. While the exact size of the group was not specified in the suit, according to the legal publication Law360, it was estimated to be "in the thousands."

The consumers in the case, who are to receive $1.5 million, were gathered in a filing from states that allow such class-action suits — Arizona, California, Florida and Missouri. They claimed they were harmed by higher prices resulting from the alleged collusion. According to court documents, this consumer class is estimated to surpass 500,000 potential claimants,.

According to the distributors’ motion to dismiss, "Hayward has agreed to enter into this settlement . . . in order to resolve all controversy related to the action and to avoid further expense and burden from protracted and costly litigation.”

For its part, according to the motions and as part of the settlement, Hayward officially denied every allegation brought by the distributors and consumers.

While these two agreements end Hayward’s involvement with the three-year-old suit, Pentair, Zodiac and PoolCorp remain enmeshed in the protracted legal battle taking place in the US District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

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