TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a lawsuit on Friday against manufacturers and sellers of cathode ray tubes and products containing CRTs for alleged price fixing.
A CRT is a vacuum tube that contains an electron gun and a fluorescent screen used to view images. They are typically used in computer monitors and TVs.
The complaint alleges that from 1995-2007, the sellers and manufacturers of CRTs fixed prices. During that time, CRTs were the dominant product used in computer monitors and televisions, recently replaced in dominance by liquid crystal displays. The state of Florida already has a pending lawsuit that alleges price fixing of LCDs. Sales of millions of CRTs and products containing CRTs resulted in billions of dollars in annual profits to the sellers and manufacturers of CRTs.
"During hard economic times, price fixing exacts a terrible toll on Florida consumers," Bondi said. "It is my hope that these lawsuits will serve to provide economic relief to the victims and deter future misconduct by corporations that seek to do business with Florida consumers and Florida governmental agencies."
The defendants allegedly met frequently at gatherings that became known as "Glass Meetings." These alleged meetings were held at secret locations where price volume, forecasts, supply, demand and allocation for CRTs was discussed. At these meetings, defendants allegedly agreed to fix the price of CRTs and reduce the output of the products, which resulted in Florida governmental agencies and consumers overpaying for computer monitors and televisions containing CRTs. The state is seeking damages for its consumers and its governmental agencies in addition to civil penalties.
In 2010, Bondi's office filed a similar lawsuit against the world's largest manufacturers of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display panels, or "TFT-LCD panels," alleging that the companies conspired to fix their products' prices. The defendants allegedly conspired to prevent competition and to increase prices for TFT-LCD panels, the most common form of LCD panels used in popular electronic devices, such as flat panel televisions, laptop screens and desktop monitors.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit were Samtel Color Ltd., Thai CRT Company Ltd., IRICO Group Electronics Co. Ltd., IRICO Display Devices Co. Ltd., Chunghwa Picture Tubes (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd., CPTF Optronics Co. Ltd., Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd., Hitachi Asia Ltd., Hitachi America Ltd., Hitachi Electronic Devices (USA) Inc., Hitachi Displays Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., Beijing-Matsushita Color CRT Company Ltd., Panasonic Corporation of North America, Panasonic Corporation, formerly known as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., MT Picture Display Co. Ltd., Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc., Toshiba American Information Systems Inc., Toshiba America Consumer Products LLC, Toshiba America Inc., Toshiba Corporation, Samsung SDI (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd., Tianjin Samsung SDI Co. Ltd., Shenzhen Samsung SDI Co. Ltd., Samsung SDI Brasil Ltda., Samsung SDI Mexico S.A. de C.V., Samsung SDI Co. Ltd., formerly known as Samsung Display Device Co., Samsung Electronics America Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Philips Da Amazonia Industria Electronica Ltda., Philips Electronics Industries (Taiwan) Ltd., Philips Electronics North America Corporation, Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V., also known as Royal Philips Electronics N.V., LG Electronics Taiwan Taipei Co. Ltd., LG Electronics U.S.A. Inc., and LG Electronics Inc.