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Armstrong World sued by rival over alleged anti-competitive practices

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A competitor of Armstrong World Industries Inc. is accusing the Lancaster County-based manufacturer with “anti-competitive” practices in the ceiling industry.

Roxul USA Inc., doing business as Rockfon, filed the lawsuit Sept. 1 against Armstrong in U.S. District Court in Delaware "to return the market to a level playing field, one where informed consumers can freely make product choices and enjoy the benefits of fair competition," Rockfon marketing communications manager Nancy Henry said Monday.

The lawsuit is filed under federal antitrust laws based on Armstrong's use of exclusivity agreements with distributors in the North American ceiling tile market, she said.

"Rockfon alleges that Armstrong's restrictive agreements with distributors constitute an illegal restraint on competition that tilts the playing field to an unfair and harmful degree," Henry added.

The company did not specify what damages it was seeking.

Armstrong responded by calling the claims "baseless" and "without merit," according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"For more than 150 years, we have stayed true to our values … competing in a fair and ethical manner," the Armstrong filing stated.

"Our distributor, contractor and customer relationships reflect voluntary and mutually beneficial arrangements, and adhere to all applicable legal requirements," it said. "We are confident in our position, look forward to making our case in court and expect to prevail."

Since the issue concerns litigation, Jennifer Johnson, director of global corporate communications for Armstrong World, declined Monday to comment.

Rockfon is a subsidiary of Denmark-based Rockwool Group, and is a provider of acoustic stone wool and metal ceiling solutions and suspension systems. Rockwool this summer announced it plans to open by 2020 a 460,000-square-foot, 150-employee stone wool insulation production facility in Ranson, W.Va..

Armstrong Flooring Inc. separated as an independent company from Armstrong World Industries Inc. in 2016, although both are based at the same address on Columbia Avenue just west of Lancaster.

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David O'Connor

David O'Connor

Dave O'Connor covers York County, manufacturing, higher education, nonprofits, and workforce development. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at doconnor@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @DaveOC_CPBJ.

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