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Firms settle pricing suit for $553m

ALBANY, N.Y. - Seven companies in Asia will pay $553 million to settle claims by eight US states that they conspired to inflate prices for liquid crystal display screens used in televisions and computer monitors, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said yesterday.

The agreement provides $501 million for partial refunds for consumers in 24 states and the District of Columbia who purchased products with the companies’ LCD panels from 1999 through 2006.

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In a group of lawsuits that were consolidated into one federal case in California, officials in the eight states alleged Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese companies conspired to fix prices on their thin-film transistor LCD panels.

The settlement by 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 US affiliates addresses antitrust claims brought by attorneys general in Arkansas, California, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New York, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The companies denied responsibility and said they settled to avoid the expense of litigation. But Schneiderman declared victory. “This price-fixing scheme manipulated the playing field . . . and left consumers to pay artificially higher costs,’’ he said.

The agreement also covers consumers in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and 12 other states.

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