(Adds Mohawk statement in 8th paragraph)
By Jonathan Stempel
May 19 (Reuters) - Mohawk Industries Inc and five other companies have agreed to pay a combined $275.5 million to settle lawsuits accusing them of conspiring to fix prices of polyurethane foam.
Purchasers of the foam on Tuesday asked U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary in Toledo, Ohio to approve the preliminary settlements, which combined with earlier accords would boost their total recovery to $433.1 million.
Polyurethane foam is used as cushioning and insulation to make such products as automobile seats, carpet underlay and furniture.
Producers of such items accused foam manufacturers of violating the federal Sherman antitrust law by conspiring to coordinate the timing and size of price increases.
Mohawk agreed to settle for $98 million, settlement papers show. Other payments include $60 million from Foamex Innovations Inc, $50 million from Woodbridge Foam Corp and affiliates, $32 million from Future Foam Inc, $19.5 million from Hickory Springs Manufacturing Co, and $16 million from FFP Holdings Inc.
The accords were reached after the U.S. Supreme Court in March declined to hear an appeal by manufacturers challenging class certification.
Carpenter Co, Leggett & Platt Inc and Vitafoam Inc previously settled with the purchasers.
In a statement, Mohawk said it denied wrongdoing, but settled to avoid the uncertainty, cost and distraction of protracted litigation. The company is based in Calhoun, Georgia.
William Isaacson and Stephen Neuwirth, lawyers for the purchasers, said a $433.1 million recovery would be 52 percent of the maximum damages estimate provided by their damages expert. They also said court approval of the settlements would bring the matter to a “just conclusion.”
The case is In re: Polyurethane Foam Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, No. 10-md-02196. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Jessica Dye and Nate Raymond; Editing by Alan Crosby)