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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Won’t Decertify Class Suing LCD Makers

(CN) - A class of electronics retailers can continue their claims against LCD panel manufacturers, including Toshiba, Hitachi and Epson, a federal judge ruled.

The retailers claim in California's Northern District that the electronics manufacturers engaged in a global price-fixing conspiracy to raise prices and restrict competition in the sales of computer monitors, laptops, televisions and other liquid-crystal display products.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston previously agreed that defendants "secretly conspired" to raise prices on LCD devices to "supra-competitive" levels. In October, she said the alleged price-fixing conspiracy had direct effects on American companies.

Two months later, LCD panel makers moved to decertify the classes. They said the court would be unable to identify members of the "indirect purchaser" class because the sources of LCD panels are hard to pin down.

Illston rejected this argument last week, reiterating the court's opinion that the case is suited for a class action.

"The conspiracy affected almost all LCD products sold in the United States," Illston wrote. "Outside of a class action, it is unlikely that most of these consumers could recover for defendants' wrongdoing."

"It is also noteworthy that the majority of the defendants have admitted to participating in the conspiracy," she added. "Assuming liability is established for the remaining defendants at trial, it would be inappropriate to require potential class members to produce proof of class membership to an absolute certainty."

Though the LCD panel makers argued that the plaintiffs' expert did not show a classwide impact with an economic model, Illston found that the class has established reasonable models to determine which class members the conspiracy had harmed.

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