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.




User Comments: 9

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Guest said:

Now all we need to do is go after the wireless companies for texting charges.

cmbjive said:

"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."

And I'm willing to bet that if all ten companies did continue to fight the governments they would have won, but at the expense of being effectively put out of business.

It's always funny how these class action lawsuits almost always never go to court and are almost always settled to pacify bullying governments.

gamoniac said:

The only sure winners in 99.99% of cases are [drumrolls..............] the laywers.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Judge, "Now hold out your wrists. *slap* Ok, don't do it again."

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Judge, "Now hold out your wrists. *slap* Ok, don't do it again."

Judge would have had the bailiff do it while the judge watched the proceedings via camera and his new swanky LG IPS monitors.

Tygerstrike said:

Unfortunatly peception equals reality. In this case, it may have appeared that the 10 companies in question were price fixing. Odds are that they were price fixing but didnt want to admit to anti trust or anti competitive behavour. Both of which would have civil and criminal costs. So them paying off the govt. and the buyers is just thier way of staying out of any potential hotwater. However.....If I were the CEO of any of these companies I would have fought any ruling if my company had no issues. The fact that they are going to shell out this much cash, leads me to believe that there was indeed price fixing.

cmbjive said:

The fact that they are going to shell out this much cash, leads me to believe that there was indeed price fixing.

Or they just weren't willing to fight. No one will ever know.

If OPEC can't get oil price fixing down right I doubt that a bunch of LCD manufacturers could as well.

Quint Quint said:

The only sure winners in 99.99% of cases are [drumrolls..............] the laywers.

This sort of ignorance only goes to show why we need lawyers, who know enough to make the system actually work. Think about it: why is it that people tend now not to smack their spouses, or as always kill them. It's because people fear going to prison. Imagine if we had the laws but no prosecutors. Who would obey them? Some would but the general level of mayhem would go through the roof.

Now take something like product liability cases. If you are the unluck one person in a million who gets killed, why does a multi-national corporation care? They just pay the family and move on. But something that happens to only 1 in a million people in the US kills about 350 people a year. Is that acceptable? Well, people have gone bonkers nationwide about 3% of that amount - 12 - being killed in a theater.

So who's going to stop this company if there aren't large amounts of money available to law firms which can go out of pocket millions and not win? The answer is no one. Certainly not the government. So unless theres a large ax held over the head of these people who make a deadly product - say, a crib - that kills 300 babies a year. That ax is the one held by your much hated class action lawyer.

So the question is, if its your baby thatr would be killed if a lawyer didn't force the crib off the market 3 years ago, how do you feel about the role of trial lawyers now. Would you rather that they all stand doiwn and allow your baby to be killed and god only knows the tens of thousands of other lives saved because manufacturers are scared of trial lawyers taking them to the cleaners?

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

This sort of ignorance only goes to show why we need lawyers, who know enough to make the system actually work

Why? Because lawyers are educators too?

I think the poster wasn't decrying the use of lawyers- rather the fee's they command.

Think about it: why is it that people tend now not to smack their spouses, or as always kill them. It's because people fear going to prison

Yeah, I think I read that somewhere- since the advent of lawyers, incidences of assault and murder have dropped markedly. So which country has this happened in? I was under the impression that lowering of violent crime incidents was more due to sociological/educational/institution/economic reform.

Imagine if we had the laws but no prosecutors

Imagine if we were talking about a civil matter -and we are- of antitrust where the only people receiving money were lawyers and the trade commission in question (I.e those affected by paying a higher price for goods and service get nothing)

Now take something like product liability cases

Why? So you can keep an increasingly OT post going? This is an article concerning antitrust litigation if you hadn't already guessed.

If you are the unluck one person in a million who gets killed, why does a multi-national corporation care? They just pay the family and move on. But something that happens to only 1 in a million people in the US kills about 350 people a year. Is that acceptable? Well, people have gone bonkers nationwide about 3% of that amount - 12 - being killed in a theater

And you don't see a difference between negligence and premeditated mass murder ?

BTW: I'm pretty sure if the makers of a defective product deliberately set out to kill as many customers as possible- then killed twelve and injured fifty-eight in one incident, people might "go bonkers" too. Just a guess on my part though.

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