Verdict Announcement: Federal Court Jury Awards Verdict Worth $20 Million in Antitrust Case Against Berkshire Hathaway’s Johns Manville

On May 3, Olson Grimsley Kawanabe Hinchcliff & Murray announced a federal court jury in Denver found in favor of manufacturer Thermal Pipe Shields, Inc. in its antitrust case against Johns Manville Corporation, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, and awarded TPS $6.78 million. Because the law calls for treble damages, the award is worth $20.35 million plus attorneys’ fees, according to the firm, which is headquartered in Denver. 

The verdict, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, follows a nearly five-year battle over calcium silicate pipe insulation calsil, which is used on industrial systems operating at extreme temperatures, the firm noted in its announcement. Before TPS entered the market in 2018, Johns Manville manufactured and sold over 95% of the calsil in the U.S.  

In 2019, TPS sued Johns Manville under the Sherman Antitrust Act, alleging when it began selling a higher quality and less expensive calsil product, Johns Manville maintained its monopoly power by threatening distributor customers who considered using the TPS product, and by making disparaging statements about it. 

“We are grateful that the jury recognized Johns Manville’s wrongful conduct,” said attorney Eric Olson in a press release. Olson is founding partner of Olson Grimsley and represented TPS at trial with attorneys Sean Grimsley and Isabel Broer and paralegal Katie Wright. “This country was built on fair competition, and consumers should not have to pay higher prices because large companies violate the antitrust laws. No matter how powerful, no company is above the law. We are thrilled that TPS is now able to freely compete in the marketplace.” 

A lower court in 2022 dismissed TPS’ claims, but the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling in 2023, the firm noted. In its reversal, the 10th Circuit focused on internal Johns Manville documents that outlined a strategy of threats, according to the announcement. 

“I want to thank Sean, Isabel, Eric and the team at Olson Grimsley who did a tremendous job,” said TPS President David Shong in a press release. “And my thanks to the jurors as well, who were willing to put our small company on a level playing field with the giant that is Johns Manville. I appreciate the jury for hearing our story and finding as it did.” 

The case is Chase Manufacturing, Inc. d/b/a Thermal Pipe Shields v. Johns Manville Corporation, No. 1:19-cv-00872 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

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