ZF Meritor and Meritor Transmission Corp. has filed an antitrust
lawsuit against Eaton Corp. in the U. S. District Court for the District of
In 1989, Meritor began selling heavy-duty transmissions in competition
with Eaton. For a decade, Eaton allegedly engaged in anticompetitive conduct to
stunt Meritor’s sales. However, by 1999, Meritor had a 16 percent share of the
heavy-duty transmission market, according to the lawsuit.
Meritor partnered with ZF Friedrishshafen AG in 199. Later, the joint
venture developed the first fully automated, two-pedal manual transmission.
“The successful launch of this innovative product would increase ZF
Meritor’s sales and position,” the lawsuit claimed.
However, Eaton allegedly took a series of exclusionary actions designed
to reduce consumer access to ZF Meritor transmissions. Among the actions
alleged in the suit was that Eaton officials negotiated de facto exclusive
contracts, closing ZF Meritor out of 90 percent of heavy-duty transmission
The companies want the court to prohibit Eaton from engaging in
anticompetitive practices in the markets for heavy-duty truck transmissions.
They also asked the court to award damages three
times as great as the amount of proven financial harm, as authorized by
federal antitrust laws.
“It is unfortunate that we have reached this point. We have filed this
lawsuit to protect competition, our shareholders, and heavy-duty truck buyers.
In a market without competition, innovation languishes, choice evaporates and
prices increase,” Chip McClure, chairman, CEO and president of ArvinMeritor,
said in a statement.
Eaton released an official statement regarding Meritor’s lawsuit.
“Eaton has competed in a fair and vigorous manner in heavy-duty truck
transmissions. Our customers chose to purchase transmissions from Eaton because
we provided superior value, innovation and service,” Eaton officials said in
the official company statement. “We will not be in a position to consider
commenting further until we have read the lawsuit. We expect to vigorously
defend our position.”