$79 Million Award Against Weyerhaeuser Thrown Out

Tuesday, February 20th 2007, 10:51 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out a $79 million award against Weyerhaeuser Co. in a lawsuit alleging the forest products company tried to monopolize the hardwood lumber market in the Pacific Northwest.

The 9-0 decision comes in the case of a defunct lumber mill that said it was driven out of business when Weyerhaeuser paid too much for logs that Weyerhaeuser allegedly didn't need.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had affirmed the award to Ross-Simmons Hardwood Lumber Co. after a jury found that the larger company violated federal antitrust law. The jury returned a $29 million jury verdict, which was tripled to $79 million.

Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said that Ross-Simmons should have been required to prove that its competitor had a dangerous probability of recouping the losses it incurred in bidding up prices.

The failure to satisfy that standard ``cannot support the jury's verdict,'' Thomas wrote.

Ross-Simmons accused Weyerhaeuser of paying too much for alder logs and not using what it bought. Alder, the predominant species of hardwood logs in the Northwest, is used in furniture and specialty products such as picture frames and musical instruments.

The case is Weyerhaeuser v. Ross-Simmons, 05-381.