Jury: Toshiba Not Liable in LCD Price Fix Suit, HannStar Guilty

A federal judge rejected Best Buy’s claims Tuesday that Toshiba Corp. engaged in a price-fixing conspiracy in the sales of display panels used in laptops, tablets and computer monitors.  Best Buy did convince jurors that HannStar engaged in a conspiracy to fix the prices, but awarded just $7.5 million in damages, below what the company sought.

The federal jury deliberated less than one day after a lengthy trial claiming that the two Liquid Crystal Display panel-makers conspired to fix the prices on LCDs in sales to consumer store, Best Buy.

The award of $7.5 million was for Best Buy’s direct purchases of LCD screens from HannStar only.  Best Buy also sought damages for its indirect purchases, meaning the finished products containing the screens.  For that the jury wrote a large zero on the verdict form.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, approved dismissal of Chimei Innolux Corp. from Best Buy’s case, after the two sides settled.  In addition, she approved dismissal of T-Mobile’s claims against Sanyo over similar LCD antitrust claims.  Earlier agreements eliminated AU Optronics Corp. from the multi-state dispute.

The case left only Toshiba and HannStar to face trial on Best Buy’s claims.

The investigation of price-fixing in the LCD market by the U.S. Justice Department has pulled in nearly $1.4 billion in fines, and included guilty pleas from companies accused of criminal conduct.

Roughly 22 executives from a variety of companies have been charged with various price-fixing crimes and at least 13 have been sentenced to prison.  In addition, eight companies have pled guilty or been convicted for their part in the conspiracy.

Case:  In re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litigation, No. M07-1827SI



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