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From Antitrust Law Daily, May 16, 2014

Panasonic’s settlement in optical disk drive price-fixing suit gets final approval

By Linda O’Brien, J.D., LL.M.

The federal district court in San Francisco has given its final approval to the settlement of a class action suit brought against Panasonic Corporation for its role in an alleged conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices of optical disk drives (In re Optical Disk Drive Antitrust Litigation, May 15, 2014, Seeborg, R.). A final judgment of dismissal with prejudice was entered in accordance with the terms of the settlement.

Electronics firm Panasonic Corporation and its subsidiary, Panasonic Corporation of North America, manufacture consumer, business, and industrial products. Purchasers of electronic products filed a class action suit against Panasonic, alleging that the company engaged in a conspiracy with other manufacturers to rig bids and fix prices for optical disk drives (ODDs) that are included in various electronic devices. The parties reached a settlement agreement which was preliminarily approved by the court on November 1, 2013.

Class certification. For purposes of the settlement, the court certified a class of all individuals and entities who purchased one or more optical disk drives in the United States directly from the defendant, its subsidiaries, or affiliates from January 1, 2004 until January 1, 2010. The defendants, its subsidiaries, affiliates, and government entities were excluded from the class. California law firm Saveri & Saveri, Inc. was appointed as counsel for the class and would fairly and competently represent the interests of the class, the court determined.

The court found that the settlement met the prerequisites under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a): (1) the number of geographically dispersed class members made joinder impracticable; (2) the questions of law and fact common to the class predominate over individual issues; (3) the claims and defenses of the class representatives were typical of the claims and defenses of the class; and (4) the class representatives would fairly and adequately represent the interests of the class and have retained experienced counsel.

Notice to class members. The notice provided to class members constituted the best notice practicable under the circumstances, including individual notice to all class members who could be identified through reasonable efforts. The notice program provided due and adequate notice of the proceedings and all matters, including the proposed settlement.

Fairness factors. The settlement provided for a settlement fund of $5.75 million, which the court found was fair, reasonable, and adequate to the class members.

The case is No. 3:10-md-02143 RS.

Attorneys: Guido Saveri (Saveri & Saveri, Inc.) for the Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs. Jeffrey L. Kessler (Winston & Strawn LLP) for Panasonic Corporation and Panasonic Corporation of North America.

Companies: Panasonic Corporation; Panasonic Corporation of North America

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust CaliforniaNews

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