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.
D.C. Hotline: Scaling back the LRRP Rule
Lumberyard owners from around the country carried drafts of S 2148 — the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendment Act — throughout the halls of Congress March 5 to 7, lobbying legislators to pass a more reasonable version of the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair & Painting (LRRP) Rule. More than 110 dealers came to Washington, D.C., for the annual Legislative Conference of the National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA).
Joined by the Window & Door Dealers Alliance, the groups co-hosted a congressional reception on Capitol Hill in the Rayburn House building foyer. CNN contributor and GOP political strategist Alex Castellanos addressed both groups, along with Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.)
Paying calls on Democrats as well as Republicans, NLBMDA members pressed various causes, including removing barriers to credit for small businesses. But the Lead Exposure Reduction Act was at the top of the agenda, having just been introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill already has five co-sponsors in the Senate, and the lobbying trip yielded two more — Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.).
Chris Yenrick of Smith Phillips Building Supply in Winston-Salem, N.C., visited with various U.S. House members, including Mick Mulvaney, a former builder who now represents a district in South Carolina, and Shelley Moore Capito, a representative from West Virginia.
Yenrick noted that his pitch for S 2148 got the best reception in the GOP offices. “They felt that the EPA had done some overreaching there,” he reported. The NLBMDA expects to have a House version of the bill introduced in the next several weeks.
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NAHB: Avoid overreaction on water regulation
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) applauded new legislation designed to curb regulatory overreach, building delays and red tape.
Introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and 29 other Senators from across the country, the Preserve Waters of the United States Act would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from using a draft guidance to dramatically expand the scope of the Clean Water Act.
Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the NAHB and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla., issued the following statements regarding the proposed act:
"We commend Sen. Barrasso for introducing this bill to compel the EPA and Corps to go back to the drawing board and craft a balanced approach to federal jurisdiction of the nation’s waterways.
"The EPA and Corps are getting ready to issue a guidance document that will evade the more transparent rule-making process to eliminate all reasonable limits on the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction. As a result, the federal government’s reach would extend to all waters, including storm sewers and retention basins and seasonal streams.
"This blatant regulatory overreach would lead to many more land development, road construction and residential projects requiring federal permits and would exacerbate permitting delays. In turn, this will increase construction costs, cause job losses, drive down housing affordability and hamper economic growth.
"The nation’s home builders have long supported the goals of the Clean Water Act, which is called into play when homes are built near rivers or wetlands and when builders take steps to avoid storm water runoff from construction sites. But recklessly broadening the scope of the act to include virtually all waters — including roadside ditches — within its regulatory reach will severely restrict the industry’s ability to recover and make new homes more costly without a corresponding environmental benefit," Rutenberg said.
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