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From Antitrust Law Daily, March 20, 2015

Panasonic agrees to settle automotive parts price fixing litigation for $17M

By Linda O’Brien, J.D., LL.M.

In consolidated antitrust actions by automobile dealers and consumers who purchased and leased vehicles against manufacturers of automotive parts for allegedly conspiring to fix prices, Panasonic Corporation has reached an agreement to settle the indirect purchaser claims, according to the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement filed in the federal district court in Detroit. The plaintiffs have also moved for provisional certification of the settlement class (In re Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation, March 19, 2015).

In the proposed settlement agreement, Panasonic has agreed to pay $17.1 million into three interest-bearing escrow accounts—for settlement classes related to switches, steering angle sensors, and high intensity discharge (HID) ballasts. Panasonic also has agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of antitrust claims against the remaining defendants, including attorney proffers, depositions of witnesses, and the production of certain documents concerning the sales of switches, steering angle sensors, and HID ballasts.

According to the memorandum in support of the motion, the settlement was a result of extensive arm’s length and good faith negotiations conducted by highly experienced counsel. The settlement falls well within the range of possible approval and achieves an excellent result for the class members, given the expense, duration, and uncertainty of continued litigation.

The motion asserts that the settlement class satisfies the requirements for class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation. Additionally, plaintiffs maintain that common questions of law and fact predominate over individual questions and a class action is superior to other methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy.

The case is No. 2:13-cv-01603-MOB.

Attorneys: Steven N. Williams (Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP), Hollis Salzman (Robins Kaplan LLP), Marc M. Seltzer and Terrell W. Oxford (Susman Godfrey L.L.P.), and E. Powell Miller (The Miller Law Firm, P.C.) for the end-payor plaintiffs.

Companies: Panasonic Corporation

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust MichiganNews

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