The U.S. Court of Appeals has affirmed an original ruling against window and door manufacturer Jeld-Wen, which ordered the company to divest its manufacturing plant in Towanda, Pennsylvania.
Brought by fellow door maker Steves & Sons Inc., a 2018 federal lawsuit accused Jeld-Wen of reducing competition in the U.S. market for interior moulded doorskins following the company's acquisition of CMI (CraftMaster Inc.). Acquired as part of the 2012 acquisition, the Towanda plant is one of four domestic doorskin manufacturing facilities currently owned by Jeld-Wen.
Steves alleged damages on six counts, including violations of Clayton Antiturst Act.
The Appeals court did change one part of the previous court's ruling. The jury's prior ruling had ordered Jeld-Wen to pay Steves $139.4 million in damages for future lost profits. This ruling has been undone.
“The injury on which the future lost profits award was premised can’t occur until September 2021, and the Clayton Act requires a plaintiff seeking damages—as opposed to equitable relief—to ‘show actual injury," the judiciary panel ruled.
Steves says it never cared about receiving damages.
“On the matter of the appellate court vacating the ‘lost profits’ damages, Steves never sought nor expected ‘double relief’ of both divestiture and lost profits damages," said Steves' attorney Marvin Pipkin. "Our best-case all along was forcing Jeld-Wen to divest itself of the Towanda plant."
“Steves has been family-owned for 150 years," wrote Judge Diaz. "The right to continue a multi-generational family business ‘is not measurable entirely in monetary terms; the (Steveses) want to sell (doors), not to live on the income from a damages award.’”
Jeld-Wen isn't happy with the ruling:
"Jeld-Wen firmly maintains that it has not violated any antitrust laws," said company CEO Gary S. Michel. "Requiring a divestiture of the Towanda facility is unprecedented and fundamentally incorrect as a matter of law. We are disappointed with the Fourth Circuit's decision to uphold the divestiture ruling and will use all available avenues of appeal. We are however pleased that the Fourth Circuit agreed with us that Steves is not entitled to an award for their erroneous claim of future damages, which greatly limits our financial exposure."
Jeld-Wen has faced other anti-trust charges. In 2018, the company was hit with accusations that it consipired with Masonite to fix prices and dominate the market. Each company agreed to pay $38 million in a settlement.
That case determined that Jeld-Wen and Masonite together have controlled 85 percent of the entire interior molded door market in the U.S. since 2012, when Jeld-Wen acquired Craftmaster.
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