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Lawyers in Disk Drive Class Action Get $13M

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge awarded over $13 million to attorneys for direct-purchaser plaintiffs that sued Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, Panasonic and others for conspiring to fix the prices of optical disk drives.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg found the plaintiffs' request for $11.37 million, or 30 percent of the $37.9-million settlement, for attorney's fees was "fair and reasonable."

Seeborg cited five factors that justified an "upward adjustment of the Ninth Circuit's 25 percent benchmark."

Those factors included results obtained by the class counsel; the risks and complex issues of the case that required a high level of skill to overcome; the fact that attorneys' fees were entirely contingent upon success; the range of awards made in similar cases; and the opportunity given to class members to air any concerns about the fee request.

The $11.3 million figure was less than half of the "reasonable lodestar," or total hours worked by the plaintiff class attorneys multiplied by their historic hourly rates, which came to $24.8 million, Seeborg said.

He also approved an additional $1.68 million in litigation costs and expenses, finding the plaintiff class counsel spent $3.28 million in expenses litigating the case.

The $37.9-million settlement package for direct-purchaser plaintiffs consisted of $26 million from Hitachi-LG Data Storage, Korea, Inc., $5.75 million from Panasonic Corporation and $6.15 million from NEC Corporation.

A long list of plaintiffs including Hewlett-Packard sued the defendants in 2010 over an alleged bid-rigging and price-fixing scheme that allowed the defendants to control 90 percent of the optical disk drive market and rake in more than $45 billion in revenue between 2004 and 2008, according to HP.

The direct-purchaser class was represented by Kaplan Fox and Kilsheimer of New York City, the Walner Law Firm of Chicago, Saveri & Saveri of San Francisco and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro of Berkeley, Calif.

Richard Saveri of Saveri & Saveri declined to comment on the award.

NEC Corporation's attorney, Ian Simmons of O'Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C., did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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