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Wis. residents eligible for part of $310M computer memory settlement

By: Cristina Janda//March 11, 2014//

Wis. residents eligible for part of $310M computer memory settlement

By: Cristina Janda//March 11, 2014//

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Consumers can file claims to recover money due to a preliminary approval of multi-state settlements worth $310 million with the major manufacturers of Dynamic Random Access Memory computer chips, which allegedly conspired to fix prices.

DRAM is a common form of memory chip found in computers and other high technology devices. The settlements, reached in conjunction with private actions, pay individuals and businesses that purchased DRAM or devices containing DRAM in the United States during 1998 to 2002 from someone other than a DRAM manufacturer, such as retailers Best Buy or Staples.

Case history:

After completing an investigation in 2006, Wisconsin, with other states, filed antitrust lawsuits in federal court alleging that consumers in the state overpaid for electronic devices containing DRAM for their purchases made from 1998 to 2002.

The defendants listed in the case caption of the complaint included Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Samsung Semiconductor Inc.

The settlements also require the DRAM manufacturers to implement antitrust compliance programs and enjoin them from certain conduct related to the sale of DRAM that would violate the antitrust laws.

To receive money from the settlement, eligible consumers need to submit a claim form by Aug. 1, 2014, with the settlement administrator. The amount of money received depends on the type and quantity of electronic devices a claimant has purchased, and the total number of claims made. Individuals who purchased DRAM or products containing DRAM are expected to get a minimum $10 payment and may end up receiving up to the amount of the overpayment they actually made due to the alleged price fixing.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s announcement of Wisconsin’s inclusion in the settlements specified that any payments resulting from the settlement cannot be made until the court has granted final approval, including the resolution of any appeals.  It is anticipated that final approval will occur within the next two years.

Also, if too many or few claims are received, the court may order that the settlement money be provided to public or nonprofit organizations in addition to, or instead of, consumers who file claims.

The state also was awarded money for state and local governments, universities and colleges for their purchases during 1998 to 2002. This money will be distributed separately with details to be announced after final approval of the settlements, and these organizations do not need to file claims in this action.


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