COVINGTON – A five-year old legal suit against a Louisiana-headquartered distributor of pool products is over after the plaintiffs in the case decided to drop their appeal against a court decision in the company’s favor.
PoolCorp, with headquarters in Covington, Louisiana, one of the largest distributors of pool equipment in the country, was accused of violating antitrust regulations in a way that hurt industry professionals and consumers.
But a federal judge sitting in the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled that the company did not engage in anti-competitive practices.
PoolCorp’s Washington, D.C.-based attorney David Bamberger said the company believes in aggressively defending itself against what it deems are baseless lawsuits.
“PoolCorp is very pleased that the trial judge granted our motions on all of the claims, and we are now glad to have this litigation behind us,” Bamberger told the Louisiana Record.
“As a matter of principle, the company believes strongly in aggressively defending itself when claims are made against it that have no merit,” Bamburger said.
Manuel Perez de la Mesa, PoolCorp’s CEO, told the trade magazine, Pool and Spa News, that the dropping of notice of intent to appeal was the “only logical outcome, because there was nothing there.”
“At the end of the day, if you do things the right way and do the right thing, then suits of that kind don’t go anywhere,” Perez said.
The litigation dates back to 2011 after a suit was filed against PoolCorp in the immediate aftermath of a settlement between the company and the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC accused PoolCorp of anti-trust violations but the settlement did not include any admission of wrongdoing.
Plaintiffs also filed suit the following year against the top three manufacturers of pool equipment, Pentair Aquatic Systems, Hayward Pool Products and Zodiac Pool Systems.
The manufacturers settled for a total of nearly $16 million in 2015, but Perez and his company refused to do so. Judge Sarah S. Vance ruled for the company earlier this year, finding in the distributor’s favor.
An intent to appeal was filed but the plaintiffs decided not to move forward, believing the Vance decision would be difficult to overturn, Russ M. Herman, an attorney for the industry professionals, told Pool and Spa News reporter Rebecca Robledo. No further suits can be filed in connection with the case.
“Judge Sarah Vance was an expert practitioner in antitrust law and litigation before she went to the federal bench and is looked upon among judges and lawyers as an expert in the field,” Herman told the magazine. “It was felt that [her] decision had the facts correctly stated. It could have been a dispute on a single legal issue, but it would cost more to proceed with an appeal in the Fifth Circuit than any worthwhile recovery that might result.”
The three manufacturers paid $15.95 million, $6.5 million from Hayward, $6 million from Pentair and $3.45 million from Zodiac. The approximately 3,000 claimants were paid an average of $3,531 each.
Perez said he still believes the motivation for suits was financial, adding, “I have not heard of a homeless person being sued anytime in the recent past.”