PC, TV Buyers to Collect $553M LCD Settlement

Samsung Electronics, Sharp, Epson Imaging Devices, and four other electronics manufacturers based in Asia agreed to a $553 million settlement with multiple states for allegedly conspiring to inflate prices for LCD screens. Consumers who own certain televisions, computer monitors and laptops, using these screens could be eligible for a partial state refund, says New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The companies will pay up to $501 million for partial refunds to compensate consumers in 24 states and the District of Columbia who purchased products containing TFT-LCD panels from Jan. 1, 1999 through Dec. 31, 2006. Private class counsel has certified classes in those states and the District of Columbia, but the refund amounts have yet to be determined.

New York State taxpayers may receive upwards of $11 million, in addition to restitution, to compensate consumers who own particular devices with these LCD, or liquid crystal display, screens.

The companies will also pay up to $37 million to compensate government and other public entities for damages.

Samsung Electronics, known as the world's leader in flat-panel televisions based in Korea, Sharp Corporation, Chi Mei Innolux Corporation, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Epson Imaging Devices Corporation, HannStar Display Corporation,  and Hitachi Displays agreed to pay over $538 million to settle antitrust claims brought on behalf of consumers, government entities, and other public entities by a group of eight attorneys general and private class action attorneys. Five of the companies agreed to pay over $14 million to settle civil fine and penalty law claims brought by the states.

Jennifer Givner, a spokeswoman for the New York Attorney General's office, said all AGs will post notices on their websites once the claims administrator is appointed to begin accepting claims applications.

"We'll be placing notice so consumers have ample opportunity to see the notice," Givner said.

Claims of consumers in the eight states where attorneys general (AG) brought actions are represented both by AGs and by private class counsel. Those states - Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia, and Wisconsin - will get penalties and money for their proprietary claims as government and public entities.

"This price-fixing scheme manipulated the playing field for businesses that abide by the rules, and left consumers to pay artificially higher costs for televisions, computers and other electronics," Attorney General Schneiderman said in a statement.

The 24 states, plus Washington, D.C., where consumers will be entitled to partial refunds are: Arizona, Arkansas, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Chris Goodhart, a spokesman for Samsung, said the company does not comment on pending litigation. Chi Mei Innolux Corporation, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Epson Imaging Devices Corporation, HannStar Display Corporation, Hitachi Displays, and Sharp Corporation did not return a request for comment.

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