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Attorney fees for capacitor price-fixing settlement top $187 million

The judge's approval of attorney fees marks the final chapter in a nine-year class action against 22 companies over price-fixing of electrolytic capacitors.

(CN) — A federal judge in California on Tuesday approved the final round of $66 million attorneys' fees in a class action against capacitor manufacturers over price-fixing claims, bringing the total compensation for the plaintiffs' lawyers in the nine-year case to more than $187 million.

U.S. District Judge James Donato found the $66 million in fees were "amply justified by the demands and duration of
the litigation" and "well within acceptable parameters." Neither class members nor defendants objected to the award.

The final two defendants in the case, Nippon Chemi-Con Corp and Matsui Electric Co., agreed to settle the case in December 2021 on the eve of the two-week trial's closing arguments. Nippon Chemi-Con agreeed to pay $160 million to the class and Matsui Electric threw in $5 million, bringing the sprawling antitrust suit's settlement total to more than $604 million.

"We are pleased and gratified by Judge Donato’s order," lead attorney Joseph Saveri said in an email. "The award recognizes the hard work and substantial result we were able to produce. It is hard to believe the case went on for seven years over the course of the Covid pandemic and included two jury trials. We are in the process of distributing the proceeds to our clients and look forward to completing that soon.”

The lawsuit, first filed in July 2014 and later consolidated with a number of other cases, involved nearly two dozen manufacturers of electronics parts that purchased electrolytic capacitors — tiny parts used in nearly every electronic device sold today, including computers, cars and televisions, that store and regulate electrical currents. The manufacturers claimed the 22 defendants — including Panasonic, Hitachi and Sanyo — conspired to fix prices for aluminum, tantalum and film capacitors as early as 2001.

"This case is about a conspiracy that lasted 12 years involving 22 mostly Japanese-based companies and hundreds of people," Saveri told the jury in his opening statement last year. "For over 12 years, the defendants illegally conspired to reduce, eliminate, and prevent competition for capacitors."

Nippon Chemi-Con had already pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the U.S. for conspiring with at least seven other companies to control capacitor prices. In October 2018, the company was fined $60 million and sentenced to a five-year term of probation, "during which the company must implement an effective compliance program and submit annual written reports on its compliance efforts," according to a Department of Justice statement.

Saveri and the other plaintiffs' lawyers won an additional nearly $2.5 million in costs stemming from the case against the last two defendants. The plaintiffs had also asked the judge for an additional $275,000 in "service awards" — incentives paid to lead plaintiffs in mass torts — with $100,000 going to the two lead plaintiffs, Chip-Tech Ltd. and eIQ Energy, Inc.

Judge Donato called that request "excessive," and knocked the service awards down to $140,000, with the lead plaintiffs getting $50,000 each.

Categories:Business, Law, Technology

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