Costco Out of Unending|TV Tube Antitrust Suit

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A federal judge on Thursday knocked down Costco’s $50 million claim that LG and other electronics firms conspired to fix the prices of TV parts.
     Costco claimed the tech firms engaged in a global scheme to control the market for cathode ray tubes, used in TVs and other devices, from 1995 to 2007.
     Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar approved a $540 million settlement between tube makers and a class of indirect buyers, but Costco decided to pursue its claims separately.
     In a hearing last March, an LG attorney argued Costco’s claims as an indirect buyer are barred in Washington state, where Costco is headquartered and its product purchases were made.
     However, Costco argued it could pursue those claims under California law because that’s where the decisions to purchase originated and where it received a majority of TV products containing price fixed tubes.
     Tigar rejected Costco’s argument on Thursday, finding the four factors for settling choice-of-law disputes under Washington state law favored the defendants.
     Those factors include the place where the alleged injury occurred, place where conduct causing the injury occurred, domicile or place of incorporation for the parties, and place where a relationship between the parties is centered.
     Tigar found that because Costco moved its headquarters from Delaware to Washington in 1999, the company was based in Washington state for a majority of the alleged conspiracy.
     The judge also found Costco’s purchase orders and payments were made in Washington.
     “It is undisputed that Costco agreed to pay and paid inflated prices from its Washington headquarters,” Tigar wrote in his 8-page ruling. “Costco was therefore injured in Washington.”
     The judge also noted the fact that Costco received a majority of products containing price fixed tubes in California “bears no legal weight.”
     He granted the defendant firms’ choice-of-law motion and dismissed Costco’s California law claims against LG, Toshiba, Hitachi and Technologies Displays America.
     Costco’s attorney, Nicholas Hesterberg of Perkins Coie, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Thursday afternoon.
     LG’s attorney, Miriam Kim of Munger, Tolles & Olson, declined to comment on the ruling.

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