High- Tech Cos. Settle Suit Over Price Fixing
Will Pay $1.1B For Inflating Costs
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a $571 million multi-state settlement with three major technology corporations charged with illegally conspiring to boost prices for liquid crystal display (LCD) screens used in televisions, computer monitors, and laptops.
As part of the agreement reached with AU Optronics Corporation, LG Display Co., Ltd., Toshiba Corporation, and affiliated entities of each corporation, New York State taxpayers are expected to receive upwards of $10 million through recovery for government purchases and penalties, in addition to restitution to compensate consumers affected by the scheme.
The corporate defendants in the latest round of settlements agreed to pay $543.5 million to settle antitrust claims brought on behalf of consumers, government entities, and other public entities by a multistate group of eight attorneys general and private class action attorneys. Separately, two of the defendants agreed to pay $27.5 million in fines and penalties to the states.
The defendants also agreed to engage in antitrust compliance programs.
Together with seven earlier settlements with other defendants reached by Schneiderman in December 2011, total settlement payments will top $1.1 billion dollars.
“This price-fixing scheme created an unlevel playing field for businesses that abide by the rules, and left consumers paying artificially higher costs for televisions, computers and other electronics,” said Schneiderman. “Protecting the integrity of the marketplace is the only way to ensure the best outcome for New York’s consumers. That is why my office will aggressively police anti-competitive practices and hold accountable corporations that violate the law.”
New York’s complaint alleged that from 1999 to 2006, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese manufacturers of thin film transistor (TFT) LCD panels, together with their U.S. affiliates, engineered a conspiracy to fix prices of TFT-LCD panels, and sold into New York millions of TFT-LCD panels at prices fixed by the cartel. TFT-LCD screens are essential components of televisions, computer monitors, and laptop screens. Substantially all TFT-LCD products sold in New York during the conspiracy period were sold at high prices illegally fixed by the conspiracy. member claims that were reprocessed under the settlement, and the total dollar amount of the restitution checks issued to members for claims processed under the settlement.
• Pay $30,000 in costs to cover the Attorney General’s investigation.
“I thank Attorney General Schneiderman for ensuring that through his office’s agreement and DFS’s stipulation with AXA, consumers will receive the health care reimbursements they expected from their insurer,” said Benjamin M. Lawsky, superintendent of financial services. “AXA has acted responsibly by agreeing to reimburse its policyholders and to use data from Fair Health going forward, ensuring that consumers' claims will be paid in a consistent and fair manner.”
Consumers with questions or concerns about health care matters may call the Attorney General’s Health Care Bureau Helpline at 1-800-428-9071.
This investigation was handled by Assistant Attorney General Brant Campbell under the supervision of Health Care Bureau Chief Lisa Landau and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Janet Sabel.
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