$540 Million Cathode Ray|Tube Settlement OK’d

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A federal judge Thursday granted final approval to a $540 million settlement between cathode-ray tube manufacturers and consumers who bought numerous brands of televisions that contained the devices, from 1995 to 2007.
     U.S. District Judge John Tigar granted the settlement despite objections from some members of the “indirect purchaser” class, who objected to the notice program as inadequate, the extent of discovery, and the settlement amount, among other things.
     “While the settlement might not be as exceptional or extraordinary as its proponents claim, the proposed aggregate settlement here is without question a good recovery and firmly in line with the recoveries in other cases,” Tigar wrote in the 37-page final approval.
     The case stems from a price-fixing scheme for cathode ray tubes, a core component of tube-based television sets and old computer monitors.
     “This conspiracy ran from March 1, 1995 to November 25, 2007, involved many of the major companies that produced CRTs, and allegedly resulted in overcharges of millions, if not billions, of U.S. dollars to domestic companies that purchased and sold CRTs or finished products containing CRTs for purposes such as personal use,” Tigar wrote in his case summary.
     The ensuing civil lawsuit, filed in 2007, has lasted nearly a decade, involved millions of pages of depositions and other court documents, and more than 36 motions for summary judgment.
     Two smaller settlements were reached before Tigar approved the motion Thursday: one with Chunghwa and LG, for $10 million in 2011, and another with LG for $25 million in 2013.
     The remaining defendants continued to fight the case until trial was scheduled for March 2015. As the trial date neared, all parties entered into settlement discussions, with agreements stipulating that Phillips pay $175 million, Panasonic $70 million, Hitachi $28 million, Toshiba $30 million and Samsung SDI $225 million.
     Thomson and TDA jointly agreed to pay $13.75 million, bringing the total to $541 million. Adding the settlement amounts from Chunghwa and LG, the total settlement stands at about $577 million.
     The money will be distributed to the indirect purchasers — non-wholesalers — the consumers who bought the televisions, with a proposed minimum recovery of $25 per person, capping the recovery at treble damages each the person suffered.
     While Tigar’s ruling wraps up the bulk of the lawsuit, some objections remain, relating to the Chunghwa settlement, that are slated to be dealt with at a November fairness hearing.
     “The Court grants final approval of the plan of allocation for all pending settlements, but finds with regard to the Chunghwa settlement that new notice is required with an opportunity for resellers to object,” Tigar wrote.
     Aside from that, Tigar approved “the plan of allocation for all pending settlements.”

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