Volume 43, Issue 2 - February 2008

Legislation & Legal

Glass Manufacturing Price-Fixing 
Suits Sweep Across the Atlantic

Following the European Commission’s (EC) decision to fine Guardian, Saint-Gobain, Asahi and Pilkington approximately $719 million for price-fixing (see the December 2007 USGlass, page 36), the United States has seen its share of similar lawsuits on anti-trust violations; since December, three price-fixing suits have named glass manufacturers as defendants. The cases each reference the recent fines.

On January 29, Burhans Glass Co. Inc. of King of Prussia, Pa., filed suit against manufacturers including Guardian Industries, PPG Industries, Nippon Sheet Glass (NSG), Pilkington Group, Pilkington North America, Saint-Gobain Corp., Asahi Glass Co. and AGC Flat Glass North America, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

The complaint alleges that as early as October 2000 the companies conspired “to fix, raise, maintain and stabilize” the price and conditions of sale of construction flat glass in the United States.

The plaintiff cites energy surcharges instated in 2000, with diesel fuel surcharges instated in 2005.Less than a week earlier, on January 25, Diversified Glass Services Inc. (DGS) filed suit against Pilkington North America Inc., NSG, AGC Group, Asahi Glass Co. Ltd., Saint-Gobain and Guardian Glass. This suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that the manufacturers “collud[ed] on the use and imposition of so-called energy surcharges to overcharge Plaintiff and other direct purchasers.”

In the complaint, the Rochester Hills, Mich.-based company alleges that, “From the year 2000 forward, defendants repeatedly colluded to impose common energy surcharges, using the same or substantially the same formula.”

The complaint alleges that the defendants “agreed to fix, peg, raise and maintain natural gas, energy surcharges by adopting a common surcharge formula” and that “the public announcements that preceded the imposition of the surcharges facilitated collusion by allowing defendants to communicate and signal to each other concerning the surcharges in advance of their imposition.”

In December, John Draper of Draper’s Auto Glass in San Bernardino, Calif., filed a class-action suit alleging price-fixing against Guardian Industries, Pilkington Plc, Saint Gobain Glass Corp. and Asahi Glass Co., and all their subsidiaries, in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In the suit, Draper alleges that the companies’ alleged agreement to fix prices deprived it and others similarly situated “of the benefits of free, open and unrestricted competition in the market.”Finally, the plaintiff alleges that prices charged to it and other retailers were fixed at “higher, artificially derived, non-competitive levels.”To read the text of the actual complaints, visit www.USGNN.com.

For more information as it happens, visit www.USGNN.com™ as well. 

Oregon School Found Negligent for Using Wired Glass in Window
Fifteen-year-old Tyler Boatwright from Dallas, Ore., stood trial in November for committing third-degree assault. 

Boatwright was accused of using a “deadly or dangerous weapon” to “unlawfully, feloniously and recklessly” injure Zachary Taylor when he allegedly pushed the victim’s head through a window. Boatwright ultimately was found not guilty. Greg Abel, founder of Advocates for Safe Glass in Eugene, Ore., testified in Boatwright’s favor, saying if the proper glass had been used in the window application the victim would not have sustained the severe injuries that he did. The judge overseeing the case reviewed a variety of records and paperwork as evidence, including letters from the Consumer Products Safety Commission, defining the allowable criteria for the wired glass exemption to apply. 

“The judge ruled that there was no intention on his [Boatwright’s] part because he would have made the same assumption that wired glass was stronger and would not break with unsafe characteristics,” says Abel.

Abel told USGlass magazine that the judge also reviewed whether the Oregon building code permitted the use of wired glass in that particular type of application and found that it does not and has not since the 2003 code change. “The judge found that the school was negligent in allowing non-safety glazing that was not in compliance with the federal safety glazing standards; the wired glass should not have been there,” says Abel.

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