SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna announced Thursday he is suing the makers of Samsung, Toshiba, Sharp and five other brands of liquid crystal displays screens.
McKenna said they engaged in price-fixing. It alleges that company leaders regularly met in secret to agree on prices and limit production from 1998 to 2006.
"LCD panels can comprise up to 80 percent of a product's retail cost," McKenna said in a statement. "Our investigation shows manufacturers illegally fixed prices and through this conspiracy, fleeced Washington consumers who paid too much for TV, laptops and monitors."
He added, "When cartels form and disregard rules governing fair competition, there will be repercussions."
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court following a yearlong investigation. It seeks restitution for state agencies and consumers, as well as civil penalties and injunctive relief.
Also filing a similar suit this week was Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who filed an antitrust action against 22 major technology companies alleging that these companies illegally fixed the prices for the LCD screens used in computers, televisions and cell phones.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, asks the court to prohibit the companies from engaging in the illegal activity and to award as damages the overcharges paid on the purchase of these items by the state of Illinois and its residents, a release from Madigan's office said. The suit also seeks civil penalties, fees and costs.
"These companies conspired to illegally fix the prices for LCD screens," Madigan said in a statement. "This lawsuit seeks to recover the money that Illinois residents and the state paid because of the price-fixing conspiracy."
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced last week he also is suing several major suppliers of liquid crystal display screens, claiming consumers paid extra because of price fixing.
"Our investigation shows that an illegal cartel eliminated competition in the marketplace for LCD screens, made its own secret decisions to boost prices, and then took steps to make those high prices stick," Cuomo said in a statement.
Several of the companies and their executives have already pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges.
The defendants named in Washington's suit are: AU Optronics Corporation; AU Optronics Corp. America; Chimei Innolux Corp.; Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. USA, Inc.; Epson Imaging Devices Corp.; Epson Electronics America, Inc.; Hitachi Displays, Ltd.; Hitachi Electronic Devices (USA), Inc.; LG Display Co., Ltd.; LG Display America, Inc.; Samsung Electronics Company, Ltd.; Samsung Semiconductor, Inc.; Samsung Electronics America, Inc.; Sharp Corporation; Sharp Electronics Corporation; Toshiba Corporation; Toshiba America Electronics Components Inc.; Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., and Toshiba Mobile Display Technology Company, Ltd.
The defendants in the Illinois lawsuit include: AU Optronics Corporation; AU Optronics Corporation America, Inc.; Chi Mei Innolux Corporation; Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. USA, Inc.; CMO Japan Co., Ltd.; Epson Imaging Devices Corp.; Epson Electronics America, Inc.; Hitachi, Ltd.; Hitachi Displays, Ltd.; Hitachi America, Ltd.; Hitachi Electronic Devices (USA), Inc.; LG Display Co., Ltd.; LG Display America, Inc.; Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.; Samsung Semiconductor, Inc.; Samsung Electronics America, Inc.; Sharp Corporation; Sharp Electronics Corporation; Toshiba Corporation; Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc.; Toshiba Mobile Display Co., Ltd.; and Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at email@example.com.