DuPont Sued by Retailers on Price-Fixing Claim for Pigment

DuPont Co., the world’s biggest producer of titanium-dioxide pigment, and three other manufacturers were accused by retailers in a lawsuit of conspiring to manipulate prices for the substance.

Los Gatos Ace Hardware in Los Gatos, California, and six other retailers sued on behalf of a nationwide group of indirect purchasers of titanium dioxide, an ingredient in white paint. They claim they paid inflated prices for products containing the pigment since 2002, according to a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in San Jose, California.

DuPont and the other defendants control more than 70 percent of the world’s titanium dioxide capacity and all of the U.S. capacity, according to the complaint. They increased prices while demand for the pigment declined, the retailers alleged. The plaintiffs seek a court order allowing them to sue as a group and recover triple damages.

“We are reviewing the allegations, and believe they are similar to claims made in the ongoing antitrust litigation in this matter,” said Dan Turner, a DuPont spokesman, in an e-mail today. “DuPont will continue to defend against these meritless claims.”

The case is Los Gatos Mercantile Inc. v E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co., 13-1180, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).