Part 3 Administrative Complaints
The FTC filed separate complaints against the three largest U.S. suppliers of ductile iron pipe fittings, which are used in municipal water systems around the United States. The FTC charged that the three companies, McWane, Inc., Star Pipe Products, Ltd., and Sigma Corporation, illegally conspired to set and maintain prices for pipe fittings, and that McWane illegally maintained its monopoly power in the market for U.S.-made pipe fittings by implementing an exclusive dealing policy. Sigma settled the FTC's charges prior to litigation (final order dated Feb. 27, 2012); Star settled soon after (final order dated May 8, 2012). On 5/9/2013, Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell dismissed charges that McWane illegally conspired with its competitors to raise and stabilize DIPF prices but found that McWane violated the antitrust laws when it excluded competitors from the market for U.S. made DIPF (domestic DIPF). On 5/13/2013, both parties filed notices of appeal of the Initial Decision. On February 6, 2014, the Commission issued a decision finding that McWane unlawfully maintained its monopoly in the domestic fittings market through its "Full Support Program", which foreclosed potential entrants from accessing distributors. The Commission's order bars McWane from requiring exclusivity from its customers. On April 17, 2015, the Eleventh Circuit upheld the Commission's order.