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Masco Settles Insulation Price Case for $75 Million

Masco Corp. agreed to pay $75 million to settle claims by independent contractors that it colluded with insulation makers to fix prices.

The payment, which will result in a charge to second-quarter earnings, covers a claims period of 1999 to 2004, Maria Duey, a spokeswoman for Taylor, Michigan-based Masco, said today in an e-mailed statement. U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes in Atlanta yesterday gave the parties until Aug. 17 to file details of the proposed settlement for her approval.

The 2004 lawsuit by independent contractors accused Masco and four insulation makers of conspiring to force them to pay more than Masco, one of the largest U.S. installers of home insulation. Masco has called the contractors’ allegations baseless. A trial set to begin last month was canceled amid settlement talks.

“We are pleased to have reached a fair resolution of this case after eight hard-fought years of litigation,” Steven Rosenwasser of Atlanta, a lawyer for the contractors, said in a phone interview today.

In the case, 369 independent contractors were seeking $150 million in damages against Masco, the sole remaining defendant after the insulation makers settled for about $37.2 million, Rosenwasser said.

Carnes said in a 2009 ruling allowing the case to go to trial that there was evidence the insulation makers established a price “spread” that gave Masco a 10 percent to 12 percent discount over independent contractors.

Duey said today that Masco didn’t admit to any wrongdoing and continues to deny the contractors’ claims.

The case is Columbus Drywall & Insulation Inc. v. Masco Corp., 04-cv-03066, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta).

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