Toshiba and Other Battery Companies Settle for $7.45M

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Toshiba and two other top battery producers will pay a combined $7.45 million to settle antitrust class action claims that they conspired to raise the price of lithium ion batteries for more than a decade.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers approved the settlements between  direct buyers of the batteries and Toshiba, Hitachi Maxell and Maxell Corporation of America and NEC in three orders issued Wednesday. The orders also certified the settlement classes.

“The Court finds that the settlement falls within the range of possible approval and that there is a sufficient basis for notifying the settlement class and for setting a fairness hearing,” she wrote in all three orders.

“We’re very pleased with the settlements and very pleased with the court’s orders granting preliminary approval,” said class counsel Rick Saveri in an interview Wednesday. “We feel the settlements are excellent and in the best interest of the class.”

The multidistrict lawsuit, which was transferred to the Northern District of California in 2013, accuses the defendants, including Sanyo, LG Chem, Panasonic and Samsung, of restricting output of the batteries and collectively raising prices between 2000 and 2011.

Sanyo and LG Chem pleaded guilty to criminal price-fixing in October 2013. Sanyo agreed to pay $10.7 million and LG Chem $1.1 million in criminal fines.

Under the newest settlements, Toshiba will pay $2.9 million, Hitachi Maxell and Maxell Corporation of America $3.45 million, and NEC Corporation $1.1 million to individuals in the United States who bought a lithium ion battery or battery product from the defendants between Jan. 1, 2000 and May 31, 2011.

The batteries are found in everyday gadgets from smartphones to power tools.

Sony settled with direct buyers last September for $19 million, making it the first defendant to settle in the case.

LG Chem, Samsung SDI, and NEC Tokin remain as defendants in the direct purchaser case, according to Saveri. Earlier this month, Gonzalez Rogers denied motions for class certification to both direct and indirect buyers in their case against those defendants, but encouraged them to refile their motions.

Saveri is with Saveri & Saveri in San Francisco.

Toshiba is represented by Christopher Curran of White & Case in Washington; Hitachi Maxell and Maxell Corporation of America by Jason Levine of Vinson & Elkins, also in Washington; and NEC by Robert Pringle of Winston & Strawn in San Francisco.

They declined to comment Wednesday.

 

 

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