August 17, 2010
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said today he has filed a lawsuit against the world’s leading manufacturers of flat screen LCD panels, alleging a conspiracy to fix the prices of their products. Koster encouraged Missouri consumers, businesses, or organizations who bought desktop monitors, notebook computers, or LCD televisions between 1999 and 2007 to report information on a form available at his website at ago.mo.gov. Koster was joined in the lawsuit by the attorneys general of four other states.
Koster serves as the national co-chair of the antitrust committee of the National Association of Attorneys General, and is a leading voice for antitrust prosecutions nationally.
“When companies compete, consumers benefit from lower prices. These companies conspired with the intent to prevent competition in order to keep prices high and increase their profits in this mega-billion dollar market,” Koster said. “These inflated prices were passed on to Missouri citizens, businesses, and taxpayer-funded institutions when they bought products such as computer monitors, flat screen televisions, and notebook monitors. This conduct was both illegal and fraudulent under Missouri law.”
Koster is asking the court to issue an injunction against each manufacturer to prevent future price-fixing activities; provide restitution for Missourians who purchased products containing LCD panels manufactured between 1999 and 2006; and award civil penalties and costs of the investigation.
Koster said his office, along with several other state attorneys general, has been investigating the industry for two years. He said the investigation uncovered evidence of a high-level conspiracy involving secret meetings in which the companies’ executives allegedly agreed to raise prices for their LDC screens. A number of the companies Koster is suing already have pled guilty to federal antitrust charges, which have resulted in more than $890 million in criminal fines.
Defendants in the lawsuit are: AU Optronics Corporation; AU Optronics Corporation America; Chi Mei Innolux Corp., Chi Mei Optoelectronics USA, Inc.; International Display Technology USA, Inc.; Chi Mei Optoelectronics Japan Co., Ltd; HannStar Display Corporation; Hitachi, Ltd.; Hitachi Displays, Ltd.; Hitachi Electronic Devices, USA, Inc.; LG Phillips LCD Co., Ltd.; LG Phillips LCD America, Inc.; Samsung Electronics, Co., Ltd.; Samsung Electronics America, Inc.; Samsung Semiconductor, Inc.; Sharp Corporation; and Sharp Electronics Corporation.
Consumers are encouraged to submit a Purchase Information Form for Consumers, and businesses and organizations are encouraged to submit a Purchase Information Form for Organizations to his office by October 15, 2010. If there is an opportunity to file a claim for restitution, the Attorney General’s Office will then contact you. Koster said his website (ago.mo.gov) will be updated as further information becomes available.