Panasonic and Hitachi settle direct purchaser claims in ODD class action

Posted on: October 24th, 2013 by Steve Larson

Antitrust CasesPanasonic Corporation will pay $5.75 million to settle with the direct purchaser class of plaintiffs in multidistrict litigation accusing the company of conspiring to fix the price of optical disk drives, according to a motion filed in California federal court Monday.

The direct purchaser class of plaintiffs asked U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg for preliminary approval of the settlement agreement, in which Panasonic would pay $5.75 million in exchange for a complete release of all class members’ antitrust and other claims against the company concerning the manufacture, supply, distribution, sale or pricing of optical disk drives.

The deal, which comes just days after fellow defendant Hitachi -LG Data Storage Inc. said it would pay $26 million to exit the litigation, would settle the price-fixing claims lodged against Panasonic by a putative class of plaintiffs who purchased CD, DVD and Blu-ray drives contained in computers, video game consoles and movie disk players.

The plaintiffs also asked Judge Seeborg for provisional certification of the settlement class, which would cover thousands of direct purchasers who bought the drives between 2004 and 2010.

The plaintiffs allege that a group of electronics manufacturers conspired to fix the prices of optical disk drives, which are used to read and record data, music and videos that are stored on optical disks. According to the complaint, the defendants illegally fixed prices and restricted output through bid-rigging, market allocation, and the use of trade associations between January 2004 and at least 2010.

The suits were consolidated in the Northern District of California in 2010, but were originally dismissed in late 2011, when a judge ruled the plaintiffs’ evidence didn’t come close to supporting the kind of sprawling conspiracy alleged. After narrowing their complaints, the plaintiffs survived a second dismissal bid in April 2012.

The case is In re: Optical Disk Drive Products Antitrust Litigation, case number 3:10-md-02143, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.