A federal judge in California recently approved disbursement of funds in a final settlement in years-long litigation regarding antitrust violation claims against three manufacturers of LCD screens. The claims were brought against AUO, LG, and Toshiba, alleging that they had engaged in schemes to fix the prices of the film transistor-liquid crystal displays (TFT-LCD) over a period of several years beginning as early as 1999. The manufacturers were accused of conspiring to set the prices for the TFT-LCD screens at artificially high values. This was done over a period of at least eight years. The litigation involved two main settlement classes; one for direct purchasers and one for indirect purchasers of the technology. Within the direct purchasers class, two subclasses were certified; one for purchasers of the panels themselves and another for purchasers of finished products that included the screens, such as televisions, notebooks, and monitors. Two indirect purchaser subclasses were also certified. The first of those was a nationwide class seeking injunctive relief and the second consisted of statewide classes seeking monetary relief. The statewide classes were certified for Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
As part of the relief for the injunctive class, the manufacturers will establish antitrust compliance programs. The only defendant to proceed to trial was Toshiba, and after six weeks of trial in 2012, a unanimous jury awarded $17 million to the panel class of direct purchasers and $70 million to the finished product class. Following the trial, Toshiba agreed to pay $30 million in exchange for dismissal with prejudice and a release of the claims against them. Overall, the direct purchasers received more than $473 million in settlements as the result of all claims against all defendants. $258.63 million of that money has been directed to go to class members, with $58.18 million being reserved for future unanticipated contingencies. Approximately $156 million went to pay attorney fees and other administrative costs. Now that the disbursement of the funds has been approved, checks will begin going out to class members and administrators.
The case is In re: TFT-LCD [Flat Panel] Antitrust Litigation [All Direct Purchaser Actions], MDL No. 3:07-md-1827 SI, N.D. Cal.