SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Toshiba, LG and AU Optronics joined the largest antitrust class action settlement in history this week, agreeing to pay consumers $543.5 million for their roles in an alleged price fixing conspiracy for the liquid crystal display panels contained in TVs, laptops and computer monitors.
The proposed agreement brings the total settlement amount to roughly $1.1 billion, as a federal judge approved the first half of the settlement with seven LCD manufacturers last year.
The three companies were facing a criminal trial in federal court. “They were about to go to trial in less than three weeks and they decided it was best not to do that. The settlement was handsome enough that in our judgment it was the best thing,” said Joseph Alioto, co-lead counsel for the California plaintiffs in an interview. “The settlement has already resulted in a substantial deterrence to these very, very powerful manufacturers of electronic products. They now understand completely that it is no longer a game and they will be taken to task.”
Consumers in Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia, and Wisconsin will receive $42 million for civil penalties. The remaining $1.08 billion will go to class members who bought laptops and flat screen TVs between January 1999 and December 2006.
The seven other settling companies include Chimei Innolux, Chi Mei Optoelectronics USA, Chi Mei Optoelectronics Japan, HannStar Display, Hitachi, Hitachi Displays, Hitachi Electronic Devices, Samsung Electronics, Samsung Electronics America, Samsung Semiconductor, Sharp and Sharp Electronics.