Walmart Inc. and Energizer face three proposed class-action lawsuits claiming they fixed the price of disposable batteries in violation of state and federal antitrust laws.
Plaintiffs Kimberly Schuman and Kyle Kelley said in their complaint that Walmart and Energizer Holdings Inc. also violated consumer protection laws by making Walmart competitors charge more for the batteries.
A second suit making the same claims has 12 plaintiffs, each of whom says they bought Energizer batteries at various retailers nationwide at inflated prices.
The plaintiffs said in court records that Walmart pressured Energizer to raise the wholesale prices of the batteries it sold to Walmart's competitors, forcing them to raise their retail prices.
Further, Energizer agreed to require these rival companies to charge their retail customers no less than what Walmart was charging its customers for the batteries.
Portable Power, a retailer that sells Energizer batteries, filed the third suit, claiming that Energizer and Walmart's tactics forced them to charge customers higher prices.
The lawsuits were filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.
"We take allegations like this seriously," Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said, "and will respond in court as appropriate."