Following allegations of a price-fixing cartel operated my far-eastern LCD screen manufacturers which lead to the U.S. Department of Justice imposing millions of dollars in fines on some of the alleged cartel members, the State of New York has filed a suit of its own, in a bid to recoup money it may have overpaid as a result of the shenanigans
The lawsuit filed on Friday by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo alleges the price fixing that lasted a decade cost public institutions in New York millions of dollars in overcharges.
The suit demands damages from makers of LCD screens used in devices ranging from televisions to mobile phones. Named in the suit are twenty firms, including the likes of Sharp, LG Display, Samsung Electronics, Toshiba, AU Optronics and Chi Mei Optoelectronics. In most cases both the parent company abroad and the US subsidiary are named.
"Our investigation shows that an illegal cartel eliminated competition in the marketplace for LCD screens, made its own secret decisions to boost prices, and then took steps to make those high prices stick," Cuomo said in a statement.
According to the statement, the lawsuit seeks to recover damages suffered from 1996 to 2006 by New York State and other public purchasers - local governments, schools, hospitals, and colleges, among others - that purchased computers and other goods containing the price-fixed screens. The suit seeks damages, restitution, and civil penalties.
Companies in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, and their U.S. counterparts, engineered a cartel that dominated the $70 billion market for LCD screens for approximately a decade, Cuomo claims.
"The cartel ensured that LCD prices were set not by competition, but by detailed and explicit secret agreements among the competitors. New York State purchasers paid artificially higher prices for products containing LCD panels as a result of the illegal conspiracy."