WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) has announced that Fortiline LLC will settle allegations of violating
federal antitrust laws by inviting a competitor to raise and fix prices.
Fortiline distributes ductile iron pipe (DIP), fittings and
accessories throughout most of the United States. According to the FTC, the
company invited a competing firm twice in 2010 to collude on pricing in North
Carolina and most of Virginia. Fortiline competed with the firm in the
distribution of a third party’s DIP products.
In a Feb. 12, 2010, email to the firm, Fortiline
allegedly mentioned its dissatisfaction with the firm’s lower prices and stated
that both companies should bid higher prices to contractors. Then, on Oct. 26, 2010, Fortiline allegedly complained to the firm about the firm’s direct sale to
a Virginia consumer at a price “20 percent below market.”
The proposed order settling the case bars Fortiline from
entering into or attempting to enter into an agreement with a competitor to fix
or raise prices.
This is the first case in which the FTC has challenged an invitation to collude by a firm that is both a direct competitor with, and a distributor for, the invitee.