It sounds like something out of a movie; high level executives meeting behind closed doors to fix prices on a valuable commodity. The product in this case is LCD panels; the types used in flat panel TV’s, computer monitors, and laptops. And Attorney General Chris Koster says not all the companies are obscure brands.
“Hitachi, Samsung, LG Phillips and the like. There are a number of companies that have been charged in this,” Koster said.
Koster is one of the co-chairs of the antitrust working committee with the National Association of Attorney Generals, so his office will be working closely with the other four states co-filing the suit as it makes its way through the Northern District of California. He says that’s a court that’s commonly used for these types of cases.
“It affected the prices Missouri consumers paid at electronics stores throughout our state and we’re going to go after these companies and try to collect on behalf of our citizens,” Koster said.
He says right now, he needs Missourians to start getting their documentation together if they purchased any of these products from these companies between 1999 and 2007.
“If a Missouri business or a Missouri individual believes they are a victim under the parameters of this lawsuit, then there is a form for them to fill out on the Attorney General’s website. We want to begin collecting this information, I imagine we’ll be collecting it will over the course of a year and we are seeking damages on behalf of Missouri consumers that have been wronged as a result of this antitrust allegation,” Koster said.
Koster says they have a whistle blower to help with the case, as well as a wealth of other evidence that the companies met to inflate prices on products using LCD panels.
“Some of these companies have already pled guilty to federal prosecutors and have paid as much as $890 million in criminal fines already so there is substantial evidence that this kind of price fixing action occurred,” Koster said.
The companies named in the lawsuit are:
AU Optronics Corporation; AU Optronics Corporation America; Chimei Innolux Corp., Chi Mei Optoelectronics 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 Display Co., Ltd., LG Phillips LCD Co., Ltd.; LG Display America, Inc., LG Phillips LCD America, Inc.; Samsung Electronics, Co., Ltd.; Samsung Electronics America, Inc.; Samsung Semiconductor, Inc.; Sharp Corporation, and Sharp Electronics Corporation.