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Antitrust suit accuses drywall makers of price fixing

– USG Corp. and seven other makers of drywall used in residential and commercial construction were sued for allegedly conspiring to fix prices for the gypsum board product since September 2011.

Sierra Drywall Systems Inc., a drywall installation company, claims the defendants violated federal antitrust laws and is seeking unspecified money damages for all people or entities that bought drywall from the defendants in the U.S. this year, according to a complaint filed Dec. 13 in federal court in Chicago.

USG, whose largest shareholder is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said the suit is “without merit,” in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“USG denies that it participated in any alleged conspiracy or has engaged in unlawful conduct, and believes that its pricing decisions were, and continue to be, made and implemented in full compliance with the law,” the Chicago company said in the filing.

USG is the leading supplier of drywall in the U.S., accounting for 25 percent of gypsum board sales in 2011, according to the complaint.

Other companies targeted in the suit include Charlotte, North Carolina-based National Gypsum, Reston, Va.-based LaFarge North America Inc. and Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific.

Nancy Spurlock, a spokeswoman for National Gypsum, said the company hasn’t been served with the suit.

“We would certainly deny any wrongdoing,” she said in a phone interview Monday. She said the company would fight the claims.

Representatives of Georgia Pacific and LaFarge didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on the lawsuit.

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