LCD-Makers Lose a Round in Antitrust Case

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Two economists can testify for a class of electronic retailers that claim seven manufacturers of liquid crystal display flat screens conspired to fix the price of TV and computer LCD panels, a federal judge ruled.



     The plaintiffs claim the electronics manufacturers engaged in a global price-fixing conspiracy to raise prices and restrict competition on sales of computer monitors, laptops, televisions and other LCD products.
     U.S. District Judge Susan Illston previously agreed that defendants had “secretly conspired” to raise prices on LCD devices to “supra-competitive” levels.
     Defendants in the antitrust case, including Toshiba, Hitachi and Epson, sought to strike the testimony of plaintiffs’ economic experts, professors Janet Netz and William Comanor.
     The experts testified that the defendants conspired to raise the prices of LCD panels to direct and indirect purchasers.
     Netz estimated that class members were damaged in the amount of $3.2 billion. Comanor estimated $2.2 billion in damages to the indirect purchaser class.
     Illston noted that the defendants’ motion to strike the experts’ reports was based on their “continued insistence that this case is not amenable to class treatment.” She rejected their argument that the experts must identify the overcharges on every LCD panel sold during the time of the alleged conspiracy.
     “Plaintiffs need not identify the overcharge on each and every panel sold to direct purchasers, and they need not trace that specific overcharge through the manufacturing and retail chains to the ultimate purchaser,” Illston wrote.
     “The fact that plaintiffs lack perfect proof does not mean that plaintiffs lack any proof at all.”
     Illston denied the motion to strike the expert reports.

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