Local corporations claim international foam price-fix scheme

By Patsy R. Brumfield/Daily Journal

TUPELO – Five North Mississippi furniture manufacturers claim they’ve suffered from an alleged price-fixing conspiracy.

They’ve filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, and within it, say that last July the FBI raided the offices of some of the defendants.

The raids, they claim, were in connection with a “multi-jurisdiction investigation into the pricing practices of polyurethane foam products.”

The European Commission, they note, also conducted similar raids at some defendants’ offices in Europe.

Filing the lawsuit are H.M. Richard Inc., Foamco Sales Inc., Prime Designs Inc., Legends Inc. and Houston Foam Fabricators Inc.

They are represented by Tupelo attorneys Don O. Gleason Jr., and W. Lawrence Deas.

The companies they accused of price-fixing are Hickory Springs Manufacturing Co., Valle Foam Industries Inc., Domfoam International Inc., The Carpenter Co., The Woodbridge Group, Flexible Foam Products Inc., Scottdel Inc., Foamex Innovations Inc., Future Foam Inc., Vitafoam Products Canada Ltd., Vitafoam Inc. and John Doe Defendants 1-10.

The lawsuit was filed March 11 and none of the defendants has answered it yet. Total actual claims may reach into the $100-million category.

The plaintiffs claim the defendants violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Clayton Act. They ask for a jury trial and for triple damages with interest, as well as orders to the companies to stop their pricing conduct.

The lawsuit states that the scheme began as early as Jan. 1, 1999, and that by February 2010, Vitafoam turned itself in to the U.S. Department of Justice “to report antitrust violations” in its industry.

Vitafoam also sought to get into DOJ’s Corporate Leniency Program, which would provide it with some level of diminished penalties.

Similar cases reportedly were filed in North Carolina and moved to a Cleveland, Ohio, federal court so that the various lawsuits around the country could combine into what’s termed a “multi-jurisdictional case.”

For more, read Tuesday’s Daily Journal or come back to NEMS360.com.