A federal jury in Seattle has found that Costco is owed nearly $37 million in damages because it purchased televisions and computers that contained price-fixed liquid-crystal display panels.
Over the past month, jurors reviewed evidence and heard testimony on how much Costco is owed as a result of an antitrust conspiracy. AU Optronics was found guilty, and LG pleaded guilty, in federal court to conspiring with other LCD manufacturers to fix prices for thin film transistor LCD panels used in televisions and computer screens. AUO was sentenced to pay a $500 million fine, and is currently appealing its conviction and sentence.
Costco filed suit in 2010 against 10 Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean LCD makers. Eight defendants — including Hannstar, Hitachi and Samsung — all settled the claims prior to trial. AU Optronics and LG Display admitted to participating in an illegal price-fixing scheme, but countered in court that Costco’s figures were excessive, and proposed $1.5 million in damages.
Costco alleged that the price-fixing scheme kept it from offering the most economical products to its customers. After a day of deliberation, the jury found that Costco had been damaged in the following amounts: $2.9 million for goods purchased from Samsung; $12.1 million for goods from Sharp; $9.1 million for goods from Toshiba, $7.3 million for goods from Phillips; $4.4 million for goods from Panasonic; and $663,000 for goods from JVC.
Closing arguments centered on which side’s economic and technical experts were better qualified, and whose economic data crunching was more accurate.