Best Buy Wins and Loses Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) Price Fixing Trial
On September 3, 2013, a California federal jury unanimously found HannStar Display Corp. liable for conspiring to fix prices on liquid crystal display (LCD) panels. However, the jury found co-defendant Toshiba Corporation not liable. The jury awarded plaintiff Best Buy Company $7.47 million in direct damages. The case is In re: TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litigation (3:07-md-01827) located in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Best Buy accused Toshiba and HannStar of conspiring with other firms to fix prices for LCD panels. Prior to and during trial, HannStar admitted participating in meetings where major electronics makers agreed to fix panel prices. The lawsuit stemmed from an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice which resulted in guilty plea agreements for HannStar and other Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean firms, not including Toshiba.
Plaintiff’s experts argued that the defendants owed Best Buy up to $770 million. Defense experts calculated damages significantly lower and the jury agreed with those estimates. However, even though the jury awarded damages, Best Buy may not be able to collect based on the jury’s decision that HannStar’s conduct did not have a direct, substantial and reasonably foreseeable effect on trade or commerce in the United States as required by the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act.