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PoolCorp Faces Antitrust Lawsuits Over Alleged Price Fixing | cialis online

PoolCorp Faces Antitrust Lawsuits Over Alleged Price Fixing

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PoolCorp is facing antitrust lawsuits over alleged price fixing. Self described as the world’s largest swimming pool products distributor, PoolCorp is accused of illegally edging out its competition.

Last November, PoolCorp settled Federal Trade Commission (FTC) claims that it used so-called “monopoly power” to stop its competition by urging manufacturers to stop selling to other distributors, said The Associated Press (AP). The just-approved settlement with the FTC has sparked at least lawsuits in California, Louisiana, and Florida, that allege PoolCorp’s practices caused prices to rise, hindered competition, and reduced buyers’ options, explained the AP.

PoolCorp distributes products used in the construction, renovation, repair, service, and maintenance of residential and commercial swimming pools, the FTC explained.

The FTC charged that, PoolCorp, of Covington Illinois, has, for the past eight years “used its monopoly power to thwart entry by new competitors by blocking them from buying pool products directly from manufacturers.” This business strategy significantly increased its competition’s costs, which lowered rivals’ sales, increased prices, and minimized options available to buyers, the FTC alleged.

Although PoolCorp did not admit wrongdoing or agree to a payout to resolve the FTC’s complaint, it did agree to cease its anticompetitive tactics to resolve the FTC’s charges. The FTC said that the proposed order settling the charges is meant to remedy PoolCorp’s alleged anticompetitive conduct and also bans Pool Corp. from:

• Conditioning the purchase or sale of pool products, or membership in PoolCorp’s preferred vendor program, on the intended or actual sale of pool products by a manufacturer to any other distributor;
• Pressuring, urging, or otherwise coercing manufacturers to stop selling, or to limit their sales, to any other distributor; and
• Discriminating or retaliating against a manufacturer for selling, or intending to sell, pool products to any other distributor.

Under the settlement order, PoolCorp must also put in place an antitrust compliance program to ensure no future violation of the terms of the order. The FTC approved the settlement in an initial 3-1 vote, the AP wrote. In response to the settlement, PoolCorp’s Chief Executive Manuel J. Perez de la Mesa said the settlement “enables us to put an end to the expense and distraction of the FTC investigation,” the AP reported.

Meanwhile, plaintiffs’ attorneys have asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate their lawsuits before one judge in Orange County, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; or Miami, Florida, according to the AP. The firms claim they purchased pool products from PoolCorp at artificially inflated prices, alleging “unfair methods of competition” and “impeding market entry by potential rivals,” the same language used by the FTC, said the AP.

The FTC contends that PoolCorp threatened manufacturers of pool products that PoolCorp would not sell their products at any of its 200 distribution centers if manufacturers also sold their products to new distributor rivals. The complaint noted that the threats were serious enough that loss of PoolCorp sales could be catastrophic to even the largest of pool products manufacturers, said the FTC. Because of this, manufacturers representing over 70% of all pool products sales would not sell to new distributors and, that for a distributor to succeed, the FTC alleged, it would have to buy pool products directly from manufacturers because no cost-effective alternatives existed.

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