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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Monopoly Alleged in Water Pipe Industry

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) - HD Supply Waterworks and JM Eagle conspired monopolize the waterworks and piping supply industry, a competitor claims in St. Louis County Court.

Boehmer Bros. claims the defendants violated antitrust laws by restricting the sale of Ultra Pipe products, which are a highly specialized and patented plastic piping developed by PM Eagle developed the patented products. PM Eagle became JM Eagle after a merger with J-M Manufacturing in June 2007 and JM Eagle assumed the patent rights, according to the complaint.

Boehmer expanded in 2006, which brought it into competition with HD Supply. Boehmer claims that it approached Brian Lang, a sales representative for JM Eagle, about buying Ultra Pipe in 2007. Lang told Boehmer that he couldn't sell Ultra Pipe to Boehmer because his other customers, who were Boehmer's competitors, would become "irate," the complaint states.

Since then, Boehmer says, JM Eagle has refused to sell it any Ultra Pipe products, causing Boehmer to lose work.

In December 2009, Boehmer says it was invited to bid on a project in the City of Festus that required an Ultra Pipe. After working out an agreement with a friendly competitor, who would buy the pipe from JM Eagle and sell it to Boehmer at retail price, Boehmer submitted a bid on the project. Boehmer was accepted as the low bid, with HD coming in second, the complaint states.

After Boehmer was awarded the bid, it claims an HD Supply representative visited Festus employees and told them that Boehmer was not authorized to buy any Ultra Pipe products. Boehmer says Lang, under pressure from HD Supply, also contacted Festus employees and told them that Boehmer was not authorized to buy Ultra Pipe products. Those statements contradict statements on JM Eagle's Web Site and several letters that Boehmer has received from JM Eagle, which offer to sell Ultra Pipe to Boehmer, the complaint states. Boehmer says Festus sent the project out for new bids.

Boehmer seeks damages for lost business and antitrust violations and it wants JM Eagle ordered to sell it Ultra Pipe products under the same terms as its other customers.

Boehmer is represented by Al Johnson of St. Louis.

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