Viega, LLC makes fittings. The complaint for this class action brings suit against it under federal and state antitrust laws, alleging that the company has engaged in anticompetitive behavior in the market for copper press fittings and carbon steel press fittings.
Fittings are used to join pipes in pipeline systems. They are made of different materials which are best for different applications. Viega has a near-monopoly on carbon press fittings, which are used for black iron pipe, for transporting oil and natural gas.
Until July 2017, Viega’s were the only carbon steel press fittings approved in the US. The company also controls 71% of the market for copper press fittings.
Viega, like other fitting makers, sells its products primarily through wholesale distributors, who in turn sell to contractors, developers, and others.
NIBCO, Inc. is a significant competitor in copper press fittings, but it does not make carbon steel press fittings. Its fittings are often cheaper than Viega’s.
The complaint says that, to maintain its dominance in copper fittings, “Viega has engaged in systematic anticompetitive and exclusionary conduct” to depress NIBCO’s and others’ sales. It has done this by “us[ing] its market power in the carbon and steel press fittings market to coerce wholesale distributors not to buy copper press fittings from NIBCO and other Viega competitors. Viega refuses to sell its carbon steel press fittings unless a wholesale distributor also purchases Viega’s copper press fittings and agrees not to purchase copper press fittings from NIBCO and other Viega competitors.”
Not surprisingly, the complaint says this has stifled competition in the carbon steel press fittings market. The complaint lists a number of wholesale distributors that Viega’s competitors have lost due to Viega’s restrictions, and it details Viega’s refusals to sell them carbon steel press fittings if they continue to buy copper press fittings from NIBCO and others.
The class action is brought by Ryan Plumbing, Inc. and Airic’s Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., both of whom are buyers of copper press fittings.
These classes have been defined for this action: