Weldbend, Boltex win false advertising, unfair competition lawsuit
On Sept. 27, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Boltex and Weldbend on all counts in a lawsuit by the American carbon steel flange manufacturers, against Spanish company, Ulma Forja – part of the Mondragon Corp. – and its U.S. subsidiary, Ulma Piping. The trial, which began on Sept. 16, was presided over by Judge Andrew S. Hanen in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.
Boltex, based in Houston, and Weldbend, headquartered outside of Chicago, became suspicious several years ago when Ulma began offering supposedly heat-treated (“normalized”) flanges to U.S. customers at undercutting prices. Plaintiffs sued Ulma in 2017, after metallurgical testing suggested that Ulma’s flanges had not been normalized and were not in conformance with industry standards as claimed by Ulma’s advertising.
The lawsuit accused Ulma of falsely claiming that it normalized its flanges in accordance with American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) A105 standards. It further stated that Ulma stamped these flanges “A105N,” issued documentation with each flange stating they had undergone the normalization process specified by the ASTM and continued to ship the flanges into the U.S. for use in American pipelines, refineries and chemical plants ─ all when testing showed the flanges were not normalized.
“We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict in this case and their findings that Ulma engaged in false advertising and unfair competition, which harmed two American companies and their workers,” said Frank Bernobich, chairman and president of Boltex.
“I want to thank the jury for recognizing Ulma’s unfair and deceptive practices that have gone on for years,” said James Coulas, Jr., president of Weldbend. "American companies like Weldbend and Boltex can compete with anyone in the world on a fair and level playing field.”
Boltex and Weldbend were represented by partners Saul Perloff and Marc Collier of Norton Rose Fulbright and Carmine Zarlenga of Mayer Brown.