SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) – Three Asia-based companies have agreed to pay $571 million to settle claims by officials from California and seven other states that they conspired to inflate prices for liquid crystal display screens used in televisions and computer monitors, according to New York’s attorney general.
The agreements announced Thursday with AU Optronics Corp., LG Display Co. Ltd., Toshiba Corp. and U.S. affiliates follow a $553 million settlement in December with seven other manufacturers from Japan, Korea and Taiwan accused of fixing prices for thin film transistor LCD panels from 1999 to 2006.
The companies didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.
They were sued by the states and by private class-action lawyers.
“This price-fixing scheme created an unlevel playing field for businesses that abide by the rules and left consumers paying artificially higher costs for televisions, computers and other electronics,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
About $692 million will be available for partial refunds to consumers in 24 states after court approval, Schneiderman’s office said. The settlements conclude the states’ lawsuit against the companies.
The the other seven states involved in the lawsuit were Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
In addition to the eight states that filed claims, the agreement covers consumers in Arizona, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee and Vermont, according to New York’s attorney general.
Previous settlements were announced with Chi Mei Innolux Corp., Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd., Epson Imaging Devices Corp., HannStar Display Corp., Hitachi Displays Ltd., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Sharp Corp. and their U.S. affiliates.
The federal court in San Francisco granted preliminary approval to the first seven settlements in January.
Consumers do not need a receipt to make their claim, and will only be splitting the money with a total of 24 states. Only about half of the nation allows for these kinds of claims. Those who want to file a claim need to go to the website www.lcdclass.com.
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