Samsung, Others Get Early OK for $513 Million Antitrust Deal

March 12, 2020, 5:31 PM

Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Thomson, and Toshiba got preliminary approval from a San Francisco federal judge for a $513 million settlement partly resolving a long-running lawsuit claiming they fixed the prices of cathode ray tubes, a critical component of older televisions and computer monitors.

The sprawling antitrust suit was filed in 2007 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. It involves proposed class claims on behalf of direct purchasers like manufacturers and wholesalers, and on behalf of downstream “indirect purchasers” like retailers and consumers.

Because the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited federal antitrust damages for indirect purchasers in Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, the retailer and consumer classes have mainly pursued claims under the antitrust laws of the 22 so-called “repealer” states, including the District of Columbia, that don’t follow the Illinois Brick rule. Some plaintiffs from non-repealer states also allege violations of consumer protection-type laws.

The electronics makers in 2015 reached a $542 million settlement with a proposed nationwide class of indirect purchasers from repealer states, as well as 22 parallel statewide classes. Judge Jon S. Tigar tentatively approved the deal and certified the classes for settlement purposes.

But while objections to that agreement were before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Tigar changed his mind.

He expressed concerns about claims releases by potential class members from the non-repealer states, and a few repealer states, that weren’t being compensated.

That was problematic on its face, the judge said, and it also called into question the adequacy of representation by lawyers who were getting $159 million out of the deal. The Ninth Circuit returned the case to Tigar’s courtroom.

Following changes to the structure of the agreement—including a $29 million reduction in attorneys’ fees—the judge gave the deal his preliminary blessing Wednesday.

Tigar also certified the 22 repealer-state settlement classes, reiterating his original reasoning. The case no longer involves a nationwide class or requires uncompensated plaintiffs to release their claims, he noted.

Trump Alioto Trump & Prescott LLP is interim lead counsel for the main proposed indirect purchaser class. Cooper & Kirkham PC is interim lead counsel for a separate proposed class of indirect purchasers from states that follow the Illinois Brick rule.

The electronics makers were represented by Morrison & Foerster LLP, White & Case LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Winston & Strawn LLP, Baker Botts LLP, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Paine Tarwater Bickers & Tillman, Rose Law Firm LLC, DLA Piper LLP, Allen & Overy LLP, Reichman Jorgensen LLP, O’Melveny & Myers LLP, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth PC, and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.

The case is In re Cathode Ray Tube Antitrust Litig., N.D. Cal., No. 07-cv-5944, 3/11/20.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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