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Class Denied Cert in Optical Disc Drive Suit

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge denied class certification for two groups of plaintiffs accusing major tech companies of fixing the prices of CD and DVD drives.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled on Oct. 3 that plaintiffs did not have sufficient expert analysis to make the case for class certification.

In the multidistrict lawsuit, two groups of plaintiffs - one seeking to represent direct purchasers and another seeking to represent indirect purchasers - argued that major companies, including Sony, LG Electronics and Toshiba, conspired to keep prices of optical disc drives from falling. They claimed that from 2004 to 2009, the tech companies colluded to create "alliances" and "supply arrangements."

But Seeborg found that the plaintiff's experts did not present a viable methodology for establishing class-wide antitrust injury and damages.

Seeborg also said the plaintiffs "have not proffered evidence or allegations that there were one or more instances in which the defendants' executive decision-makers entered into express agreements to fix prices across the board on an ongoing basis."

However, Seeborg denied the defendants' motion to strike testimony from the plaintiff's experts.

"Finding that plaintiffs fail to show the expert reports answer the critical questions is not equivalent to concluding the opinions are without reliable methods and principles, or are otherwise inadmissible," Seeborg wrote.

"Within 20 days of the date of this order, the parties shall submit jointly a report as to their respective positions on how the litigation should proceed from this juncture."

The case was transferred to San Francisco in 2010.

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