Also announces settlement with cooperating manufacturer.
Attorney General John Kroger today announced a $100 million lawsuit against major manufacturers of Thin-Film Transistor-Liquid Crystal Display (TFT-LCD) panels accused of forming an international cartel in order to restrain competition in violation of state and federal antitrust laws. The lawsuit was filed today in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon.
"This important lawsuit will help ensure a fair marketplace and protect Oregon consumers." said Attorney General Kroger.
TFT-LCD panels are used in computer monitors, televisions, mobile phones and other electronic devices. Manufactures named in the lawsuit include AU Optronics, Chi Mei, Epson, Hannstar, Hitachi, LG Display, Samsung, Sharp, and Toshiba.
The Oregon Department of Justice was a major participant in a multistate investigation which revealed substantial evidence that, from 1996 to 2006, those companies engaged in an illegal scheme to restrict competition in the $70 billion LCD panel market.
According to the charges, top executives held special meetings and used a telephone "hotline" in order to share pricing information and production volumes and agreed to inflated prices resulting in artificially high prices to Oregon purchasers of LCD panels and products.
Although a final determination is still pending, a preliminary estimate based on sales data for the conspiracy period indicates Oregon consumers and businesses may have suffered up to $103 million in overcharges on the purchase of items containing overpriced LCD panels.
Prior to filing the lawsuit Attorney General Kroger and other state attorneys general obtained a settlement with Chunghwa Picture Tubes LTD, the terms of which require the company to cooperate with the states' lawsuits and pay $486,000.
The US Department of Justice previously obtained indictments of AU Optronics and a number of its executives and eight companies have entered guilty pleas to price fixing: Samsung, Chi Mei, Chunghwa Picture Tubes LTD, Epson, Sharp, LG Display, Hannstar and Hitachi.
The Oregon Attorney General is charged with enforcing both federal and state antitrust statutes on behalf of Oregonians. Senior Assistant Attorney General Tim Nord from the Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section is handling the case for the Department of Justice.
Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department's mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, promote a positive business climate, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.
Kate Medema, 503-378-6002, email@example.com