CHICAGO — Consumers in Illinois have about five months left to claim their share of a $104 million settlement reached by the state Attorney General’s Office with television and display monitor manufacturers over claims the companies illegally fixed the prices of the LCD screens used in the devices.
Filed in August 2010, the lawsuit alleged LCD panel manufacturers agreed to fix prices and limit production between 1998 and 2006, charging inflated prices. As a result, devices with LCD screens were sold at higher prices.
Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan announced the $104 million settlement this spring with Chunghwa, Chi Mei Innolux, Epson, Hitachi, LG Display and Sharp. The companies settled separately at different times over the last five years, starting with Chunghwa in 2012.
“These companies illegally conspired to fix prices for LCD screens,” Madigan said in a news release. “I encourage Illinois consumers to file claims to recover money if they overpaid.”
After the initial notice was given, an additional settlement with AU Optronics was reached for $57.8 million, said Eileen Boyce, a spokesperson for Madigan's office.
Litigation continues against Samsung and Toshiba.
The state launched an investigation into the allegations after a federal investigation led to several criminal pleas and a criminal conviction of one of the companies, Boyce said.
In 2012, AU Optronics was found to have participated in an international conspiracy to fix LCD panel prices and breaking U.S. antitrust laws, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The Taiwan-based company paid $500 million in fines and was the eighth company found liable under the federal investigation into LCD panel price fixing. At the time, the companies had paid $1.39 billion in fines and 22 executives were charged. Twelve were convicted and sentenced to a combined 4,871 days in prison.
After conducting an investigation, the attorney general in Illinois filed her own civil suit.
Consumers and other claimants should submit a form by Oct. 4, 2016, to receive part of the settlement. Any person or business that bought LCD products for personal use while residing in the state between 1998 and 2006 is eligible for restitution. Eligible products include most notebook computers with color displays, flat screen monitors, TVs referred to as LCD or LED TVs, cell phones, MP3 players and other handheld devices with high resolution color displays.
The maximum amount a consumer could get depends on the device. Someone who bought a TV could get up to $270 per unit while someone who purchased a notebook computer could get up to $165, Boyce said. A small-screen LCD product, such as a color-screen cell phone or a GPS, would recover $20.
If the settlement isn’t enough to cover all the filed claims at the maximum amount, then claim payments over $20 will be prorated, Boyce said.
Claims can filed online at www.illinoislcdsettlement.com or by calling 1-800-949-0146. Claims can also be mailed to LCD Illinois Claims, c/o A.B. Data, Ltd. P.O. Box 170500 Milwaukee, WI 53217.