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From Antitrust Law Daily, February 18, 2016

Sony agrees to settle lithium ion battery price fixing action for $19M

By Linda O’Brien, J.D., LL.M.

Electronics manufacturer Sony Corporation has agreed to pay $19 million to settle a multidistrict action by direct purchasers against a number of Japanese and Korean manufacturers, and their U.S. subsidiaries, for allegedly conspiring to fix the prices of lithium ion battery cells, according to a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement filed in the federal district court of Oakland, California (In re Lithium Ion Batteries Antitrust Litigation, February 16, 2016).

Purchasers of lithium ion batteries filed suit against 17 corporations, alleging a multi-year conspiracy to fix the prices of lithium ion battery cells—chemical cores of rechargeable batteries that are found in consumer electronics, or as standalone products. The defendant corporations included LG Chem., Ltd., Samsung SDI Co., Ltd., Panasonic Corp., Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd., Sony Corp., Hitachi Maxell, Ltd., GS Yuasa Corp., NEC Corp., Toshiba Corp., and their domestic subsidiaries.

The direct purchaser plaintiffs are seeking preliminary approval of a proposed settlement, under which Sony Corporation and its related entities have agreed to pay $19 million to be distributed among eligible class members. The settlement also requires Sony to cooperate in the prosecution of the case against the non-settling defendants.

According to the plaintiffs’ motion, the proposed settlement is within the range of possible approval. The settlement was the product of good faith, arm’s-length negotiations informed by extensive discovery between experienced and well-informed counsel; has no obvious deficiencies; treats all class members fairly; and compares favorably to settlements in other cases.

The court should provisionally certify the settlement class defined as follows: all persons or entities that purchased a lithium ion battery or lithium ion battery product from the defendants in the United States from January 1, 2000 through May 31, 2011.

The requirements of Rule 23 are satisfied in the case, the motion asserted. The class is so numerous that joinder of all members would be impracticable. The case involves questions of law and fact that are common to the class. The class representatives’ claims are typical of the class’s claims and those representatives will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class, the plaintiffs contended.

Additionally, the common questions of law and fact predominate over any individual questions and a class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the case, the motion stated.

The motion also requests the appointment of the law firms of Saveri & Saveri, Pearson, Simon & Warshow, LLP, and Berman DeValerio as settlement class counsel; approval of the proposed plan of notice and plan of allocation; and the scheduling of a final approval hearing.

Attorneys: Bruce L. Simon and Clifford H. Pearson (Pearson Simon & Warshaw, LLP), R. Alexander Saveri (Saveri & Saveri Inc.), Joseph J. Tabacco, Jr. (Berman DeValerio), and Judith A. Zahid (Zelle LLP) for the direct purchaser plaintiffs.

Companies: Sony Corporation; Sony Energy Devices Corporation; Sony Electronics Inc.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust CaliforniaNews

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