LG, Toshiba, AUO to settle display panel price-fixing case

SAN FRANCISCO Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:59pm EDT

A man looks at Toshiba Corp's Regza liquid-crystal display (LCD) televisions at an electronic store in Tokyo January 26, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

A man looks at Toshiba Corp's Regza liquid-crystal display (LCD) televisions at an electronic store in Tokyo January 26, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Toshiba Corp, LG Electronics Inc and AU Optronics Corp have agreed to pay a combined $571 million to settle a lawsuit over price fixing in the liquid crystal display panel market, according to an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Joseph Alioto, a San Francisco attorney who was co-lead counsel for a class of consumers suing the companies, said the amount includes $27.5 million in civil penalties for eight state governments. Seven other LCD manufacturers had reached an earlier settlement for $538.5 million, which was approved on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.

The two settlements mean total recovery for consumers nears $1.1 billion, Alioto said. Representatives for AUO, Toshiba and LG could not immediately be reached on Wednesday.

The class action alleged a detailed conspiracy from 1996 through 2006 to fix LCD prices, resulting in higher prices for buyers of televisions, laptops and other electronics. Several companies also pleaded guilty to separate criminal charges and paid fines.

Alioto declined to comment on the specific amounts AUO, Toshiba and LG agreed to pay, but said a court document set to be filed on Thursday would outline those figures. Illston will also have to approve the deal.

Any consumer who files a claim will receive at least $25, Alioto said, and the class could include at least 20 million consumers.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is In Re: TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litigation, 07-md-1827. (Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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