California AG Announces Half-Billion Dollar Settlement over Price-Fixing Scheme

December 27, 2011

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced on Tuesday that her office, along with the attorney general offfices, reached a $553 million settlement with manufacturers for allegedly engaging in price fixing of flat screen LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) panels found in monitors, laptops and televisions.

In October 2010, Harris filed a lawsuit against 10 companies for engaging in price fixing of LCD panels from 1999 to 2006 that resulted in higher prices for California residents and businesses, as well as government agencies.

The settlements resolve Harris’ claims against seven companies, along with those of seven other attorneys general and a national class action. As part of the settlements, the companies participating in the settlement will provide a fund for consumers and businesses in 25 states, including California. The settling companies have also resolved claims brought by Harris for civil penalties under California’s Unfair Competition Law, as well as restitution for government agencies that purchased the flat screen LCD panels.

Harris was joined in these settlements by the attorneys general of Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as a class action brought on behalf of private claimants in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Settling defendants include: Chimei Innolux Corp.; Chi Mei Optoelectronics USA Inc.; Chi Mei Optoelectronics Japan Co. Ltd; HannStar Display Corp.; Hitachi Ltd.; Hitachi Displays Ltd.; Hitachi Electronic Devices, USA Inc.; Samsung Electronics, Co. Ltd.; Samsung Electronics America Inc.; Samsung Semiconductor Inc.; Sharp Corp.; and Sharp Electronics Corp.

The California case was originally filed in San Francisco Superior Court, where litigation continues against AU Optronics Corporation, AU Optronics Corporation America, Inc., LG Display Co., Ltd., LG Display America, Inc., Toshiba Corporation, Toshiba Mobile Display Co., Ltd., and Toshiba America Electronics Components, Inc.

In 2008, two companies – LG Display Co., Ltd. and LG Display America, Inc. – pleaded guilty to federal charges for price fixing TFT-LCD panels and paid $400 million in federal fines. Defendants AU Optronics Corporation and AU Optronics Corporation America, along with several employees, have been indicted on federal charges of price fixing. The criminal trial is scheduled for January 2012 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

California consumers and government entities will receive a significant portion of the more than $500 million settlement, with an exact percentage to be determined later, according to Harris’ office.

Following completion of the litigation, California consumers and businesses can file claims for monetary relief. Information about how to file a claim will be available at the Attorney General’s website or by calling 800-952-5225.

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