Asian Distributor Sues EastmanApril 19th, 2017 by Katherine Coig
According to a recently filed court document, a South Korean distributor has filed a lawsuit against Eastman Chemical Company for allegedly knowing and selling defective window films after one of three key ingredients was removed in an effort to cut costs. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York on Saturday, April 15.
The plaintiff, Seoul-based Sae Han Sheet Co. (SHSC), although an international distributor, is authorized to do business in New York, and the supposed defective films were shipped from the state. Therefore, jurisdiction will preside in New York. SHSC is also suing Commonwealth Laminating and Coating Inc. (CLC), John Does and ABC Companies 1 through 20—pseudonyms for individuals believed to be involved.
SHSC says it had been a national distributor of the SunTek brand since 2008 and, at that time, was invited by CLC to be its exclusive distributor in South Korea. However, in December of 2013, it alleges the the manufacturer nulled the exclusive distributor agreement, saying the plaintiff failed to meet sales minimums. Han continued to purchase and sell SunTek films through December 2016 as a non-exclusive distributor, even after CLC’s acquisition by Eastman in 2014.
SHSC alleges that Eastman wanted to cut costs, and, therefore, removed one of the three key ingredients in SunTek automotive films. The documents reads, “ … Contemporaneous to its acquisition of the Suntek product line and the business of Commonwealth Laminating, defendant Eastman Chemical undertook a post-merger ‘profitability review’ of the Suntek product line.
“Upon information and belief, defendant Eastman Chemical came to a decision, within its upper management, that ‘cost cutting measures’ would justify the discontinuation of one of three principal ingredients in the manufacturing process of the Suntek automotive tinting film. Shortly thereafter, it began to manufacture the Suntek tinting film and held it out to the market, not only within the United States, but throughout the world, as ‘the same’ yet missing a key ingredient.”
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff argues that the removal of this ingredient happened sometime between late 2014 and early 2015, and that Eastman has continued sell the films.
Han claims that Eastman acknowledged the defect in an attempt to suppress negative press from spreading throughout the U.S., and sent him replacement films. He says these films were, too, defected. He also alleges that the defected products have cost him a loss of profit, a loss of customers and business opportunities.
The plaintiff demands judgement against the defendants on the following:
- compensatory damages;
- punitive damages;
- return of remaining products to defendants;
- all consequential damages including loss of profits, legal fees, expert fees, and costs;
- any other relief the Court deems just and proper under the circumstances.”
Eastman Chemical Company had no comment at press time. Window Film magazine will continue to follow this story as it develops.