PU foam maker proposes up to $15m to settle US price-fixing suit

19 November 2011 00:32  [Source: ICIS news]

PU foam maker proposes settlementHOUSTON (ICIS)--UK-based Vitafoam had no immediate comments late on Friday regarding a proposal to pay up to $15m (€11m) to settle allegations that the company fixed prices on polyurethane (PU) flexible foam.

Under the proposal, Vitafoam would pay $9m with a possibility of paying up to $6m more, for a total worth up to $15m, according to court documents. In addition, Vitafoam offered to cooperate with the polyurethane-foam customers in their lawsuit against other producers.

In proposing the settlement, Vitafoam denied all allegations that it has done anything wrong.

The proposal still needs to be approved by the court.

Vitafoam is among several polyurethane producers accused of fixing prices. Others include Carpenter, Flexible Foam Products, Future Foam, FXI - Foamex Innovations, Hickory Springs Manufacturing, Inoac, Leggett & Platt, Mohawk Industries, Otto Bock Polyurethane Technologies, Plastomer, Scottdel, Valle Foam and the Woodbridge Group.

Leggett & Platt and Otto Bock have both denied the allegations.

In the lawsuit, the foam buyers allege that the producers had been fixing prices since at least 1 January 1999. As a result, the buyers said they had paid too much for foam as the market was no longer competitive.

The foam buyers are seeking class-action status for their lawsuit.

They are among three groups of buyers who have accused the producers of price-fixing.

A second group is made up of large US furniture and mattress manufacturers.

A third group is made up of indirect purchasers - customers who bought the finished mattresses and furniture.

Many of the foam producers being sued have filed their own price-fixing lawsuits against producers of polyether polyols, toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) and methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI).

The lawsuits have become a tangle of litigation filed against BASF, Dow Chemical, Huntsman and LyondellBasell. All have proposed settlements except for Dow Chemical.

The litigation is pending in the US District Court of Kentucky.

($1 = €0.74)

By: Al Greenwood
+1 713 525 2645

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