Three LCD makers settle price-fixing class-action suit for $543.5 million

By Lee Kaelin on July 13, 2012, 4:30 PM

AU Optronics (AUO), LG Display and Toshiba have finally settled for $543.5 million bringing an end to the six-year long multi-state led class-action lawsuit in which all three companies stood accused of operating an LCD panel price-fixing ring.

The case goes back to 2006, when ten panel makers were accused of conspiring to fix LCD panel prices, with consumers paying heightened retail prices for TVs, laptops and other LCD-equipped electronics as a result. The seven other panel makers reached a $553 million settlement back in December, and at the time the three firms in question today had refused to settle.

"The price-fixing scheme created an unlevel playing field for businesses that abide by the rules," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement to PC Mag, adding that they "left consumers paying artificially higher costs for televisions, computers, and other electronics."

The settlement includes $27.5 million that will be paid in civil penalties to eight states, plus a further $543.5 million to be paid out to LCD buyers affected by the price-fixing scandal across 24 states and the District of Columbia.

Interestingly, all ten companies still maintain there was no wrongdoing, saying the only reason for settling was to put an end to the long-running matter. A record class-action lawsuit settlement totaling $1.1 billion between the two separate deals certainly seems a heavy price to pay just to make it go away.

It's worth pointing out that the settlement is yet to be approved by the court, although it's unlikely to be denied since the accused parties were granted preliminary approval to a previous settlement in January.

Anyone who files a claim in the case will be able to receive at least $25, with as many as 20 million US consumers potentially eligible to claim. It might not be the fastest payout however, especially considering the settlement agreed with the seven other panel makers in December remains unpaid.

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