States Seek Relief for Consumers Harmed by Alleged Price-Fixing Conspiracy
Attorney General Hardy Myers Friday will file a multi-state lawsuit that would prohibit the world's largest manufacturers of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) chips from manipulating prices and seek monetary relief on behalf of consumers, and public entities that paid more for computers because of alleged price-fixing. DRAM is a widely used form of computer memory that is found in personal computers, servers and other electronic devices.
"As a result of a price-fixing conspiracy by companies that make memory chips that are a crucial component of many high-tech products, Oregon consumers and state agencies have paid more for computers," Attorney General Myers said. "With this lawsuit, we hope to stop the manufacturers from manipulating prices in the future and to recoup some of the public's losses."
The Oregon Department of Justice and over 30 other Attorneys General are seeking damages, restitution, civil penalties and injunctive relief for consumers and public entities that paid higher prices for electronics from 1998 to 2002 as a result of alleged price-fixing. Companies in the lawsuit include Elpida, Hynix, Infineon, Micron, Mosel Vitelic, and Nanya.
The states' complaint lays out details of the conspiracy, including an agreement by industry leaders to trim production in order to artificially raise prices.
As a member of the Executive Committee, Oregon was actively involved in coordinating a multi-state investigation that began in 2004 concerning a scheme where DRAM manufacturers profited at the expense of consumers. According to the states' complaint, the defendants violated federal and state antitrust laws by coordinating prices and exchanging information concerning prices they charged for DRAM. The suit asks for a jury trial, an unspecified amount of damages and an injunction against future illegal conduct.
In June 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation into what officials have called "one of the largest cartels ever discovered." Micron agreed to cooperate with investigators in exchange for amnesty from federal criminal charges. Several defendants and twelve individuals have since pleaded guilty to criminal price-fixing and collectively paid more than $730 million in fines.
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