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In re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litigation

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 6, 2013

IN RE: TFT-LCD (FLAT PANEL) ANTITRUST LITIGATION.
v.
AU Optronics Corp., et. al., C 10-4945 SI This Order Relates to: Target Corp., et al., MDL No. 1827

ORDER GRANTING IN PART TARGET PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION RE CARTWRIGHT ACT CLAIMS

SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge.

Currently before the Court is Plaintiffs'[1] Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's Orders Dismissing Plaintiffs' Cartwright Act Claims. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court found these matters suitable for disposition without oral argument and therefore VACATED the hearings currently scheduled for May 2, 2013. Having considered the moving papers and the arguments of the parties, and for good cause appearing, the Court hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants' motion. Docket No. 7670.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs filed this antitrust action in 2010, seeking to "recover the damages [it] incurred as a result of a long-running conspiracy by manufacturers of liquid crystal display panels (LCD Panels')." See SAC at §1. On September 7, 2011, this Court granted plaintiffs leave to file a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). The SAC alleges that "[d]efendants and their co-conspirators formed an international cartel illegally to restrict competition in the United States in the market for LCD Panels." Id. at §3. The SAC includes claims under the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, and claims under the antitrust and unfair competition laws of California and various other states. SAC at §§231-68.

Defendants Samsung SDI and Sanyo Electronics moved to dismiss plaintiffs' Cartwright Act claims based on the grounds, among others, that plaintiffs' purchases were made outside of California. See Docket No. 4162. Additionally, defendants jointly moved for summary judgment on plaintiffs' Cartwright Act claims in two separate motions. See Docket Nos. 6111 and 6083. The first motion applied to Target, Sears, and Kmart, and defendants argued that application of California law would violate defendants' due process rights. The second motion applied to RadioShack and CompUSA, and defendants made the same due process arguments, but also raised a separate basis for summary judgment on choice of law grounds.

In its orders addressing the above motions, the Court dismissed plaintiffs' California Cartwright Act claims on due process grounds because plaintiffs had failed to establish that purchases of price-fixed goods occurred in California. See Docket Nos. 4703, 6570, and 6802. In these orders, the Court relied on earlier orders upholding the same due process rights with respect to other plaintiffs, such as AT&T. See Docket No. 1823.

On February 14, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in AT&T Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp., 707 F.3d 1106 (9th Cir. 2013), in which it reversed this Court's earlier ruling dismissing AT&T's California law claims. The Ninth Circuit held that "the Cartwright Act can be lawfully applied without violating a defendant's due process rights when more than a de minimis amount of that defendant's alleged conspiratorial activity leading to the sale of price-fixed goods to plaintiffs took place in California." AT&T Mobility LLC, at *6. The Ninth Circuit remanded to this Court to make an individual determination consistent with the Circuit's opinion "with respect to each defendant as to whether plaintiffs have alleged sufficient conspiratorial conduct within California, that is not slight and casual, ' such that the application of California law to that defendant is neither arbitrary nor fundamentally unfair.'" Id. at *7 (emphasis added).

Based on the Ninth Circuit's decision, plaintiffs seek to reinstate the California Cartwright Act claims previously dismissed on due process grounds. At the March 15, 2013 case management conference, the Court granted plaintiffs leave to file a motion for reconsideration. Plaintiffs filed this motion shortly thereafter.

LEGAL STANDARD

"Reconsideration is appropriate if the district court (1) is presented with newly discovered evidence, (2) committed clear error or the initial decision was manifestly unjust, or (3) if there is an intervening change in controlling law." School Dist. No. 1J v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir.1993). Reconsideration should be used conservatively, because it is an "extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of judicial resources." Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir.2003) (quoting 12 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice § 59.30 [4] (3d ed.2000)). A motion for reconsideration may not be used to present arguments that were presented initially or "reasonably could have been raised" during the initial motion. Id. The district court has discretion to deny a motion for reconsideration. Kona Enterprises, Inc. v. Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 883 (9th Cir.2000).

DISCUSSION

In the SAC, plaintiffs allege various instances of conspiratorial conduct with California. For example, they allege:

Defendants engaged in and implemented their conspiracy in the United States through the offices they maintained in California. Defendants' employees in their California offices engaged in communications and meetings with other defendants to exchange price and supply information and reach agreements regarding LCD Panel prices to be charged to their customers in the United States and elsewhere. Defendants' employees in California also received information from their counterparts elsewhere regarding the substance of defendants' agreements with respect to LCD Panel prices and supply, and were instructed to use this information in the course of price negotiations with customers in the United States. Defendants' California offices were thus the means through which they implemented their conspiracy in the United States.

SAC, § 6; see also § 112 (the conspiracy "was effectuated through a combination of group and bilateral discussions that took place in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, California, and elsewhere in the United States"). Additionally, plaintiffs allege that particular employees of Defendant companies engaged in communications, partly in California, in which competitive pricing information was shared and which "were meant to advance the conspiracy's presence in and control over the U.S. market for LCD Panels and LCD Products." Id. at § 117. Plaintiffs also discuss such conspiratorial conduct in ...


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