By MICHAEL VIRTANEN
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Three Asia-based companies have agreed to pay $571 million to settle claims by officials in eight 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 eight states involved in the lawsuit were Arkansas, California, 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 will have to file claim notices, according to the class notice administrator.