The efforts of class action plaintiffs lawyers in wide-ranging, long-running LCD panel antitrust litigation are paying off, with total recoveries possibly crossing the $1 billion mark. On Thursday, plaintiffs in multidistrict litigation over alleged price-fixing in the market for thin-screen LCD panels filed a motion for preliminary approval of $571 million in settlements with the three remaining class action defendants: AU Optronics Corp., LG Display, and Toshiba Corporation. If approved by San Francisco U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, the settlements would bring the total amounts recovered in the cases brought by indirect purchasers to more than $1.1 billion. The massive class, which was certified in 2010, includes purchasers who bought televisions, laptops, or monitors that contain LCD panels from 1999 through 2006. Suing under various antitrust, consumer protection, and unfair competition laws of 23 states and the District of Columbia, they claimed that the defendants colluded to fix prices, creating higher prices for consumers. Eight states also filed suits of their own, which are included in this settlement. Previously the plaintiffs had reached settlements totaling $553 million with Samsung ($240 million) and five other companies that Judge Illston approved on Wednesday. (For our earlier coverage of the litigation, see this article.) This $1 billion recovery for consumers, if approved, will likely lead to some big fees for the plaintiffs lawyers, who were led by The Alioto Law firm and Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason. (They have not yet filed their fee request.) In a separate case brought by different counsel on behalf of direct purchasers, Illston awarded a 30 percent fee, for a total of $121 million. Under the proposed settlements, LG will pay $361 million plus a $19 million penalty, which is the biggest settlement among all the companies that were sued. AU will pay $161.5 million plus an $8.5 million civil penalty to the states, and Toshiba will pay $21 million. Joseph Alioto Sr. said Friday that the settlement will put at least $25 back in the pocket of anyone who purchased televisions, laptops and other electronics in the states where consumers are allowed to sue alleged price-fixers. Settlement talks were aided by retired San Francisco U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, according to Thursday’s filing. Retired California state court judge Daniel Weinstein and Boston University School of Law professor Eric Green also played roles in the mediation. LG is represented by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Munger, Tolles & Olson; AU is represent by Nossaman LLP and Sedgwick LLP; and Toshiba is relying on White & Case. Defense counsel either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to calls.
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