Toshiba, LG, AUO settle LCD price-fixing case

Defendants agree to pay combined US$571 million to settle class action lawsuit alleging price-fixing of LCD panels.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Toshiba, LG Display and AU Optronics (AUO) have agreed to pay a combined sum of US$571 million to settle a lawsuit over the price-fixing of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels.

According to newswire Bloomberg Wednesday, San Francisco attorney Joseph Alioto, who was the co-lead counsel representing consumers suing the companies, said US$543.5 million would be awarded to consumers in 24 states who overpaid for electronics because of the alleged price-fixing. Another US$27.5 million in civil penalties to eight states would also be paid out, bringing the total settlement to US$571 million, Alioto added.

The lawyer did not reveal how much each company would pay, but said a court document seeking approval of the settlement would be filed Thursday in a federal court in San Francisco, Bloomberg reported.

The attorney told the newswire an earlier settlement with other panel manufacturers for US$553 million had been approved by a federal judge on Wednesday. Altogether, the two settlements totaled more than US$1 billion, setting a record for recovery in a class action lawsuit over price-fixing. 

The companies were alleged to have fixed prices for the LCD panels, driving up prices from 1999 to 2006, according to the class-action lawsuit filed in 2007. A separate report by Reuters Wednesday said several companies also pleaded guilty to separate criminal charges and paid fines.

In a Reuters report last week, a U.S. jury wanted to fine Toshiba US$87 million for conspiring to fix prices of LCD panels, but the Japanese electronics giant replied in a statement there was "no illegal activity on its part in the LCD business in the United States". The company added it did not expect to pay any damages, as the settlement by other defendants in the lawsuit exceeded the fine amount imposed on Toshiba.

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