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LG Closer to Ending Woes Over TV Tube Scheme

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge gave preliminary approval for a $25 million settlement of claims that LG Electronics schemed to corner the market on cathode ray tubes, and forced inflated prices on consumers.

LG is one of several companies involved in the international plot that led to multidistrict litigation in 2007. The antitrust suit consists of direct purchasers - companies that bought the tubes directly - and indirect purchasers, who bought products containing the tubes.

Defendants Samsung, Philips, Daewoo, Chungwa, Toshiba, Panasonic, Hitachi Mitsubishi and others "met or talked with their competitors for the purpose of fixing the prices of CRTs" beginning in 1995, according to a fourth amended complaint.

The indirect purchasers reached a preliminary settlement agreement in September, after a federal court found they had standing to pursue their claims against LG and Philips.

U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Conti granted preliminarily approval on Monday.

"The court finds that the proposed settlement with LG, as set forth in the settlement agreement, subject to final determination following proper notice and a fairness hearing, is sufficiently fair, reasonable and adequate to authorize dissemination of notice to the settlement class," Conti wrote in his order.

The settlement resolves all state and federal claims against LG, which agreed to pay $25 million in exchange for dismissal of antitrust, unfair competition and consumer protection claims brought by class members. The agreement provides $525,000 for notification costs and sets up a fund of up to $5 million for litigation expenses.

The costs will come out of the $25 million, leaving over $19 million for class members.

Conti deferred the allocation and distribution of the net settlement fund, however, "until a later date when there might be additional settlement funds from other settling defendants to distribute."

Mario Alioto of Trump Alioto Trump & Prescott, in San Francisco, is lead counsel for the indirect purchasers.

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