CRT Television and Computer Monitor Settlements
If you or your organization purchased products containing cathode ray tubes, such as computer monitors or televisions, between March 1, 1995 and November 25, 2007, these settlements apply to you.
The Attorney General of the State of California has obtained two settlements in the following antitrust lawsuit: The State of California, et al. v. Chunghwa Picture Tubes, et al., San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC-11-515786. This lawsuit concerns a conspiracy to fix, raise, maintain, and/or stabilize the prices of cathode ray tubes (“CRTs”). As a result of this price-fixing conspiracy, purchasers of CRT televisions and computer monitors were overcharged. The defendants are manufacturers of CRTs. Settlements have been reached with two CRT manufacturers: (1) Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. (“Chunghwa”) and (2) the Philips Electronics North American Corporation (“Philips”). The combined settlement amount is $800,000 (“Settlement Fund”).
This lawsuit was filed on behalf of California government entities, sole proprietors, and individuals who purchased products containing CRTs, such as televisions and computer monitors, between March 1, 1995 and November 25, 2007. However, such government entities, sole proprietors, and individuals are not eligible to make a claim for the Settlement Fund because the monies will not be distributed directly to anyone. Rather, this is a cy pres settlement, a legal term meaning that when there are so many affected parties that it is difficult to distribute the Settlement Fund in a fair manner to every affected party, the Settlement Fund may be distributed in the form of grants. If the Court grants final approval of these settlements, then the Settlement Fund indeed will be distributed in the form of technology-related grants to charitable organizations as well as local and state government entities through a grant process. The Court will decide this at the Fairness Hearing to be held on December 5, 2013, beginning at 9:30 a.m. before Judge Richard A. Kramer at 400 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, in Department 303. (Please note that previously, the hearing was set for October 18, 2013, but the Court recently changed it to December 5, 2013.)
But this does not mean that government entities, sole proprietors, and individuals who purchased CRT televisions and computer monitors have no rights under these settlements. Even though you cannot make a claim for the funds, you do have the following rights: (1) to be excluded from this lawsuit, i.e., to tell the Attorney General that you do not want her to sue on your behalf; (2) to object to these settlements; (3) to request to intervene in this lawsuit; and (4) to request to appear at the Fairness Hearing, when the Court will decide whether to give final approval to the settlements and allow the Attorney General to proceed with distribution of the Settlement Fund through grants. To do this, you must fill out the Exclusion and Objection Form attached to the Notice to Government Class Members and to the Notice to Individuals and Sole Proprietors. The deadline for submitting this form to the Attorney General’s Office is September 8, 2013.
In addition, please note that Chunghwa, Philips and several other CRT manufacturers also have been named as defendants in private lawsuits concerning the same alleged price-fixing conspiracy. For more information on these private lawsuits, please see the below section on “Private CRT Lawsuits and Settlement.”
- Notice to Government Class Members
- Notice to Individuals and Sole Proprietors
- Court Order
Private CRT Lawsuits and Settlement
Chunghwa, Philips and several other CRT manufacturers also have been named as defendants in other lawsuits concerning the same alleged price-fixing conspiracy. These other lawsuits currently are combined into a single proceeding called In re: Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Antitrust Litigation (2007), Case No. 3:07-MDL-1917, currently pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (“the federal lawsuit”). One of these federal lawsuits is based on a complaint filed by several California residents who “indirectly” bought CRTs when they purchased products that conatined CRTs, such as televisions or computer monitors. They are called the Indirect Purchaser Plaintiffs (“IPPs”). The IPPs in the federal lawsuit are asking the Court to name them as the official representatives of all California residents who indirectly bought CRTs. The IPPs will then try to recover damages on behalf of all such California residents. This could include you. A Special Master has recommended to the federal court that the court should certify a class of California residents. The federal court has not yet decided whether the IPPs can represent all California residents or not. If the federal court adopts the recommendation, you will be included in this class of California residents without any further action on your part. This may result in payment of monies to you if the California IPPs prevail on their claims. There has been no decision on whether any of the defendants in the federal lawsuit will have to pay damages.
Like The State in this lawsuit, the IPPs have already agreed to a settlement with Chunghwa and Chunghwa has been dismissed from the IPPs’ federal lawsuit. Any right you might have to receive compensation from the IPPs’ settlement with Chunghwa will not be affected by The State’s settlement with Chunghwa in this lawsuit. For more information on the IPPs’ settlement with Chunghwa and any rights you may have in that settlement, please visit www.crtsettlement.com.
Philips has not settled the federal lawsuit brought by the IPPs. As stated above, Philips’ settlement with The State in this case includes a release of all claims brought by the Attorney General on your behalf relating to CRTs. It is possible that The State’s release of claims on your behalf could impact your rights in the federal lawsuit. It could limit your ability to recover damages in the federal lawsuit with respect to some or all of the claims asserted in this lawsuit. It also could limit the IPPs’ ability to recover damages in the federal lawsuit on your behalf. That means that if you do not exclude yourself from this settlement, you may not be able to bring a claim under California law in the federal lawsuit, and the IPPs may not be able to bring a claim under California law on your behalf in the federal lawsuit.
It is not yet certain whether the settlement by The State in this case will limit your rights, or the IPPs’ rights, in the federal lawsuit. It also is not certain whether Philips will be held liable for damages in the federal lawsuit. These are legal questions that will be resolved in the future but cannot be answered today. If you have any questions regarding the federal lawsuit or the potential for this settlement to limit your ability to participate in the federal lawsuit, you should consult with a lawyer.