SAN ANTONIO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--San Antonio-based door manufacturer Steves and Sons, Inc. (www.stevesdoors.com) has received a second favorable jury verdict in its ongoing battle with JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. This follows a separate antitrust action against JELD-WEN, won in February by Steves, which is proceeding to a Federal judge’s decision on what is necessary to restore competition in the market for interior molded doorskins given JELD-WEN’s violation of the antitrust laws. Interior molded door skins are a key component for almost all interior molded doors, the most popular type of interior door sold in the United States.
In the February case, Steves won a unanimous jury verdict in a Richmond, VA Federal court that JELD-WEN’s acquisition of a former competitor, CraftMaster (CMI), violated Section 7 of the Clayton Act, which prohibits acquisitions where the effect is to “substantially lessen competition” in a relevant product market. The jury awarded damages to Steves and Sons totaling over $58 million that under the statute will be trebled, resulting in a total award well in excess of $170 million plus attorneys’ fees. That same jury also found that JELD-WEN’s conduct breached its supply agreement with Steves by improperly overcharging it for doorskins.
That case has now moved forward to an upcoming ruling by a U.S. Federal District Judge for additional remedies, including whether, in order to restore industry competition, the court should order that JELD-WEN divest itself of its Towanda, PA facility, which a jury decided that JELD-WEN obtained in an illegal merger.
JELD-WEN had filed a counterclaim in response to Steves’ original Clayton Act antitrust suit, alleging that Steves had misappropriated purported trade secrets in violation of the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act and the Federal Defense of Trade Secrets Act. The counterclaim was separated from the Steves’ antitrust claims for a separate trial. In that trial, which ended May 11, 2018, the jury rejected 59 of JELD-WEN’s 67 alleged trade secrets, awarded just three percent of the almost $40 million in damages JELD-WEN sought, and rejected the allegation that Steves sought to harm JELD-WEN.
“We always believed JELD-WEN filed their claim primarily to serve as a noisy and costly distraction, since many of the so-called ‘trade secrets’ involved information JELD-WEN had an obligation to provide Steves under the parties’ supply agreement” said Marvin Pipkin, attorney for Steves and Sons. “The jury’s message is clearly in line with our belief that JELD-WEN’s allegations of wrongdoing and any claimed harm to JELD-WEN were overblown and not worthy of the time and resources JELD-WEN caused the parties and the jury to devote to this trial.”
“Steves and Sons explored the possibility of building its own molded doorskin manufacturing facility,” he said. “Such a move would be a major undertaking and, not having been in the business of making doorskins, which are key components in door manufacturing, Steves hired consultants, some of whom had previously worked for JELD-WEN.”
“We are convinced the information gathered from those consultants is generally available throughout the doorskin industry and medium density fiberboard business, and certainly not ‘trade secrets,’” Pipkin said.
“This second jury verdict shows that the claim by JELD-WEN was a sideshow and not relevant to the larger issue that JELD-WEN’s merger with CMI effectively minimized competition in the molded doorskin marketplace in this country.” Pipkin concluded.