On Tuesday, a jury in northern California ruled that Japan’s Toshiba Corp is liable for $87 million in damages for conspiring to fix prices in the liquid crystal display market. The verdict came in a civil class action suit brought by consumers against Toshiba and other LCD producers alleging practices that unfairly throttled competition and helped fix prices. Other defendants in the case had settled quickly, but Toshiba took the matter to trial in San Francisco federal court.
The jury found Toshiba should pay $70 million to consumers who bought finished products and $17 million to manufacturers who used LCD panels in their products. The company issued a statement in response to the verdict observing that it would pursue “all available legal avenues” to rectify the verdict. The statement mentioned, “While Toshiba appreciates the jury’s time and effort, Toshiba believes that the jury’s verdict is in error as to the finding of wrongdoing.”
In March, the Taiwanese manufacturer AU Optronics was convicted on criminal charges related to the LCD price-fixing scheme. U.S. prosecutors had found that AUO executives had met its competitors more than 60 times in luxury hotels to fix the prices of LCD panels. The prosecutors also accused in the AUO case that LCD price fixing had cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars. Though several other LCD manufacturers settled criminal charges, Toshiba was not indicted.
Richard Heimann, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs told the media, “We are very pleased the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and found that Toshiba violated the law, particularly in light of the government’s decision not to criminally prosecute Toshiba for its misconduct.”
The civil case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is In Re: TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 1827.