Stock prevails in subcontractor lawsuit

A North Carolina Business Court Judge has ruled in favor of Stock Building Supply in a long-running case involving one of its window and door installers. Thompson Installation filed suit against Stock in April 2011, claiming breach of contract and unfair restraint of trade because Stock allegedly refused to let Thompson do work for any of Stock’s competitors. According to the lawsuit, the contract between the two companies was supposed to be “non-exclusive.” 

But that’s not how it worked out, the plaintiff said. Stock used “threats and coercive tactics” to make Thompson refuse work from Stock’s competitors. At the time, the Raleigh, N.C., pro dealer was providing Thompson with more than 200 installation jobs per week. Stock’s competitors were offering less than 20, according to the court brief.

The issue at stake — whether Stock possibly committed unfair trade practices or unlawful restraint of trade — was designated as a “mandatory complex business case” by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court and assigned to a Business Court. In Judge John Jolly’s ruling, there were no  “substantial aggravating circumstances” in the dispute that would constitute unfair trade practice. He also noted that Stock had a 60% market share of window and door installation in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, hardly a monopoly that would hurt consumers through an unfair constraint of trade.

Jolly did not rule on the breach of contract motion.

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