BrandsMart Sues LCD Panel Makers



Discount CE and appliance dealer BrandsMart USA is suing 15 Asian manufacturers for fixing LCD display prices who have to respond by June 24.

The suit, filed here earlier this month in a federal district court under the chain’s corporate name Interbond, accuses Epson, Hitachi, LG, NEC, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba and other suppliers of forming an international cartel that conspired to “fix, raise, stabilize and maintain” panel prices, affecting billions of dollars of U.S. commerce.

The other defendants include Au Optronics, Chi Mei, CMO, Chunghwa, Hannstar, Mitsui and Tatung, plus various subsidiaries.

The suit is based on recent price-fixing prosecutions by the U.S. Justice Department, which said it has netted more than $890 million in fines from eight of the LCD producers. The group includes LG, whose $400 million penalty is among the largest criminal fines ever imposed by the agency.

More recently, Justice Department actions led to the indictments of AU Optronics and HannStar Display for participating in the conspiracy, and nine cartel executives including the CEO of Chungwha and the president of Chi Mei were sentenced to prison terms of up to 14 months after entering guilty pleas.

Privately held BrandsMart, which operates nine superstores in Southeast Florida and Atlanta, is seeking damages for panel overpayments during the 10-year period. The suit covers all products with LCD panels sold by the retailer, including TVs, computers and wireless handsets, court documents show.


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