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Capacitor Antitrust Case Nears End With Deals Worth $165 Million

May 27, 2022, 7:23 PM

Matsuo Electric Co. and Nippon Chemi-Con Corp. affiliates stepped closer to ending antitrust litigation over a global price-fixing scheme by capacitor manufacturers, when a federal judge in San Francisco granted preliminary approval to settlements worth $165 million that bring the case’s total damages to roughly $605 million.

Judge James Donato tentatively signed off Thursday on the pacts, which would resolve class action claims brought on behalf of direct purchasers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. A parallel case on behalf of indirect purchasers like consumers has also settled.

The multidistrict lawsuit, consolidated in 2017, accused dozens of mostly Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese companies of a sprawling conspiracy to inflate the prices of capacitors. The components, which store and regulate currents, are found in virtually every electronic device.

The suit’s original targets included electronics giants like Panasonic Corp., which settled for $45 million. Certain individual lawsuits being heard alongside the class actions remain ongoing.

The fifth round of settlements, disclosed in late March, calls for payments of $5 million by Matsuo and $160 million by a group of Chemi-Con affiliates. The total haul of $604.5 million represents 141% of overcharges paid by the direct purchasers, not counting the availability of treble antitrust damages, according to court filings.

Counsel for the direct purchasers, who have already been awarded nearly $70 million in legal fees and more than $9 million in court costs, said in March that they plan to request another $66 million in fees, representing 40% of the new agreements .

Donato scheduled a final settlement hearing for Aug. 18. He gave potential class members until July 29 to file a claim or opt out.

Joseph Saveri Law Firm LLP is lead counsel for the direct purchasers. Chemi-Con is represented by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Kaufhold Gaskin Gallagher LLP. Matsuo is represented by Morrison & Foerster LLP.

The case is In re Capacitors Antitrust Litig. (No III.), N.D. Cal., No. 17-md-2801, 5/26/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Leonard in Washington at mleonard@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com