Mitsubishi settles tech price-fixing claims for $33 million in U.S. court

A logo of Mitsubishi Electric Corp is pictured at the 28th Japan International Machine Tool Fair in Tokyo, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

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  • Latest deal reached in long-running case in California federal court over video display components
  • Class lawyers will seek $11 million in fees

(Reuters) – Mitsubishi Electric Corp has agreed to pay $33 million to resolve consumer class claims alleging the Japanese company participated in an international conspiracy to fix the prices of cathode ray tubes found in televisions and computer monitors, according to a new court filing.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers said in the filing on Thursday in San Francisco federal court that the agreement with Mitsubishi marked the 10th settlement overall with “indirect” purchasers of the core technology component in tube-style screens.

Total settlement payments will rise above $580 million if the deal, subject to a federal judge’s review, is approved.

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Six other companies reached settlements in 2015, including Samsung SDI Co Ltd, which agreed to pay $225 million; Koninklijke Philips NV, resolving claims for $175 million; and Panasonic Corp, which agreed to pay $70 million.

“The settlement negotiations with Mitsubishi Electric were hard-fought and highly adversarial,” lead plaintiffs’ lawyer Mario Alioto of Trump, Alioto, Trump & Prescott told U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in Thursday’s filing.

Alioto said the settlement was reached “only after extensive investigation and discovery into the parties’ claims and defenses, and arm’s-length negotiations” between class counsel and attorneys for Mitsubishi.

He did not immediately respond on Friday to a message seeking comment.

Mitsubishi and the other technology company defendants have denied the plaintiffs’ claims.

A spokesperson for Mitsubishi on Friday did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Jenner & Block partner Terrence Truax, a lawyer for Mitsubishi, did not immediately respond to a similar message.

The plaintiffs alleged a price-fixing conspiracy from 1995 to 2007. Manufacturers were accused of conducting meetings to coordinate on setting prices. The North American market was the largest for cathode ray tubes during the class period, according to the complaint.

Mitsubishi in 2017 agreed to resolve claims from direct purchasers of cathode ray tubes for $75 million. Those plaintiffs included electronics and computer companies that bought components from Mitsubishi.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers in the latest Mitsubishi settlement said they would seek $11 million in legal fees for their work on the deal. Overall, the lead class attorneys have been awarded more than $140 million in fees for litigation on behalf of consumer purchasers.

A settlement hearing is scheduled for Sept. 22.

The case is In re: Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 4:07-cv-05944-JST.

For indirect purchaser plaintiffs: Mario Alioto and Lauren Capurro of Trump, Alioto, Trump & Prescott

For Mitsubishi Electric Corp: Terrence Truax and Michael Brody of Jenner & Block

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Reporting by Mike Scarcella

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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