Spitzer Kos Price-fixing On Salton's George Foreman™ Grills

Attorney General Spitzer today announced an $8.2 million nationwide settlement with houseware manufacturer Salton, Inc., which resolves an antitrust lawsuit filed today by New York, 43 other states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

The lawsuit, the result of a two-year investigation initiated and led by the New York Attorney General, alleges that Salton coerced retailers into fixing the price for Salton's George ForemanT contact grills, while also excluding Salton's competitors from retailers' shelves. Salton's George ForemanT contact grills are popular grills that cook food on both sides simultaneously, much like a waffle iron. Under the policies challenged by the states when retailers sold at a discount or stocked a competitor's product, Salton suspended the retailer until it fell into line with Salton's policies.

"This office is dedicated to fighting unlawful and anti-competitive business practices that harm consumers," Spitzer said. "Salton's business practices harmed consumers retailers alike. This settlement ensures that its anti-competitive pricing strategies will end."

Under the settlement, Salton will pay $8 million in damages, $200,000 in investigative expenses, and notice costs. Salton will also agree to a court order that prohibits it from engaging in similar anti-competitive conduct in the future. The damage amount is subject to adjustment depending on the number of states signing on to the settlement.

Because of the difficulty and expense of identifying the many individual consumers and returning funds to them, the settlement agreement provides that the restitution funds be distributed to charitable entities and/or government agencies for initiatives to improve health care and nutrition in ways that benefit, as a group, the purchasers of the grills. Specific information about the distribution will be made available after Salton completes its payments, the last of which is set for March 2004.

Further information on the settlement, including important documents, will be posted on the website of the National Association of Attorneys General, www.naag.org, as soon as it becomes available. Individuals interested in the settlement are advised to check that site for further details.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Linda Gargiulo, David Weinstein and James Yoon, and Director of Economics Hampton Finer of the Attorney General's Antitrust Bureau.