December 29, 2011
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said today that he has reached settlements with five of the seven defendants he sued in August 2010 for fixing the prices of flat screen LCD panels. The settlements will provide restitution to Missouri consumers and to Missouri governmental purchasers that bought LCD monitors, notebook computers, and LCD televisions between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2006. The settlements also include payment of civil penalties to the state.
Among the defendants Koster settled with are Hitachi, Ltd., Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., and Sharp Corporation.
“These settlements are another example of my office’s commitment to ensuring that companies that fix prices have to compensate Missouri citizens and the state,” Koster said. “Even when the meetings to fix prices are held in Asia, my office will not hesitate to pursue the wrongdoers.”
In addition to settling Missouri’s claims, the settlements, valued at over $500 million, resolve the claims of seven other state Attorneys General and a national class action.
The settlements were filed in federal court in San Francisco Friday. No distributions will occur until the court approves the settlements and the litigation against the remaining defendants is completed. Missouri is scheduled to go to trial with the remaining defendants in November 2012.
“When all the litigation is concluded, we will encourage Missourians to file claims so they can recover what we alleged was overpaid for these products,” said Koster.
The settlements will provide redress to Missouri residents and businesses as well as governmental entities. Following completion of the litigation, a claims process will be announced. Information about how to file a claim will be available at the Attorney General’s office’s website, http://www.ago.mo.gov/.
Missouri residents and businesses who would like a notice mailed to them when it is time to file a claim are invited to write or e-mail the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to provide their address. Such requests may be e-mailed to LCD-Litigation@ago.mo.gov or may be mailed to the Attorney General’s Office at P.O. Box 899, Jefferson City, Missouri, 65102.
Koster said his office, along with several other state attorneys general, had been investigating the industry for more than 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 LCD screens.
Koster’s litigation continues against LG Display Co., Ltd., AU Optronics Corporation, and their American subsidiaries.
A number of the companies Koster sued already have pleaded guilty to federal antitrust charges, which resulted in more than $890 million in criminal fines. Defendants LG Display Co., Ltd. and LG Display America, Inc, pleaded guilty to federal charges for fixing the prices of TFT-LCD panels in 2008 and paid $400 million in federal fines. Defendants AU Optronics Corporation, and AU Optronics Corporation America, along with several employees, have been indicted on charges of price fixing and are scheduled to go to trial in January on those criminal charges.
Defendants who have agreed to settle the lawsuit are Chimei Innolux Corp., Chi Mei Optoelectronics USA, Inc., Chi Mei Optoelectronics Japan Co., Ltd, HannStar Display Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd., Hitachi Displays, Ltd., Hitachi Electronic Devices, USA, Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Samsung Semiconductor, Inc., Sharp Corporation, and Sharp Electronics Corporation.
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 prosecution nationally.