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In re Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Antitrust Litigation

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 8, 2017

IN RE: CATHODE RAY TUBE (CRT) ANTITRUST LITIGATION MDL No. 1917 This Order Relates To: ALL DIRECT PURCHASER PLAINTIFFS No. 14-cv-2058 JST

          ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT WITH MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC DEFENDANTS

          JON S. TIGAR United States District Judge

         The Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs (“DPPs”) move for final approval of their class action settlement with the Mitsubishi Electric Defendants (the “Settlement”).[1] ECF No. 5163. No objection to the settlement has been filed with the Court. See ECF No. 5163-1 (“Saveri Decl.”) ¶ 2. The Court held a final fairness hearing on June 8, 2017. No objections were presented at the hearing. For the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby grants final approval of the Settlement.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual and Procedural Background

         This multidistrict litigation arises from an alleged conspiracy to fix prices of cathode ray tubes (“CRTs”). The alleged conspiracy ran from March 1, 1995 through November 25, 2007. The first DPPs filed a class action complaint on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated in November 2007, alleging a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, and Section 4 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 15. Numerous additional actions followed. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”) transferred all related actions to this Court on February 15, 2008. Saveri & Saveri, Inc. was appointed Interim Lead Class Counsel for the nationwide class of direct purchasers on May 9, 2008. ECF No. 282.

         Discovery and motion practice in this Multidistrict Litigation case (“MDL”) have been extensive. For example, “[t]he parties have reviewed and analyzed millions of pages of documents produced in discovery, ” “responded to hundreds of interrogatories and requests for admission, ” and conducted over “125 depositions.” ECF No. 5099-1 at 2. Moreover, as the DPPs put it, “[v]irtually every legal or factual issue of any substance has been the subject of motion practice in this case, or in the cases brought by the DAPs, or both.” ECF No. 5099 at 8.

         There have been eight prior settlements between the DPPs and other Defendants in this case, valued at $10 million (“CPT” or “Chunhwa”), [2] $15 million (“Philips”), [3] $17.5 million (“Panasonic”), [4] $25 million (“LG”), [5] $13.5 million (“Toshiba”), [6] $13.45 million (“Hitachi”), [7] $33 million (“Samsung SDI”), [8] and $9.75 million (“Thomson”)[9]. Id. at 9. In each of these prior DPP settlements, the Court certified a settlement class, appointed Saveri & Saveri, Inc. as Settlement Class Counsel, and found that the manner and form of providing notice of the settlements to class members was the best notice practicable under the circumstances. Id. at 9-10 (listing specific ECF entries). For each, the Court also entered orders of final approval and final judgments of dismissal with respect to the settling (and released) defendants. See ECF Nos. 1413, 1414, 1509, 1510, 1622, 1792, 3932, 3933, 4416, 4417.

         On July 8, 2015, the Court entered an order granting the DPPs' motion for class certification against the Mitsubishi Electric Defendants. ECF No. 3902. The DPPs later provided notice to the Class, which explained the opt-out procedure. ECF No. 5099 at 10. Nineteen entities opted out. Id. On February 13, 2017, the Court granted the DPPs' motion for preliminary approval of their class action settlement with the Mitsubishi Electric Defendants. ECF No. 5166.

         B. The Proposed Settlement

         The Settlement provides that Defendants will pay the DPP Class $75, 000, 000 in cash in exchange for dismissal with prejudice and a release of all claims asserted in the Second Amended Complaint. ECF No. 5099-1 at 13-16. Specifically, the DPP Class will relinquish their claims against the “Mitsubishi Electric Releasees.”[10] ECF No. 5099-1 at 14. The release excludes claims for product defects, personal injury, and ordinary commercial disputes. Id. Indirect purchaser claims under state law for purchases from entities other than defendants and alleged co-conspirators (and their related companies) are also excluded. Id.

         The Settlement will become final upon: “(i) the Court's approval of the Settlement pursuant to Rule 23(e) and the entry of final judgment of dismissal with prejudice as to the Mitsubishi Electric Defendants; and (ii) the expiration of the time for appeal or, if an appeal is taken, affirmance of the judgment with no further possibility of appeal.” ECF No. 5099 at 12; ECF No. 5099-1 at 12-13.

         Subject to the approval and direction of the Court, the Settlement payment will be used to: (1) pay members of the class; (2) pay attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses to the extent later awarded by the Court; (3) pay all taxes associated with any interest earned on the escrow account; and (4) up to $300, 000 may be used to pay for Notice costs and future costs incurred in the administration and distribution of the Settlement payments. ECF No. 5099 at 11. Payments to the class will be on the basis of each class member's pro rata share of the total affected sales, with no portion reverting to Defendants. ECF No. 5099-1 at 4. “[T]to determine each Class member's CRT purchases, CRT tubes (CPTs/CDTs) are calculated at full value while televisions are valued at 50% and computer monitors are valued at 75%.” Id.

         C. Jurisdiction

         The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2).

         II. FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT

         A. Legal Standard

         “The claims, issues, or defenses of a certified class may be settled . . . only with the court's approval.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e). “Adequate notice is critical to court approval of a class settlement under Rule 23(e).” Hanlon v. Chrysler Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1025 (9th Cir. 1998). In addition, Rule 23(e) “requires the district court to determine whether a proposed settlement is fundamentally fair, adequate, and reasonable.” Id. at 1026. To assess a settlement proposal, the district court must balance a number of factors:

the strength of the plaintiffs' case; the risk, expense, complexity, and likely duration of further litigation; the risk of maintaining class action status throughout the trial; the amount offered in settlement; the extent of discovery completed and the stage of the proceedings; the experience and views of counsel; the presence of a governmental participant; and the reaction of the class members to the proposed settlement.

Id.

         B. Analysis

         The Court finds that the class members have received adequate notice and that the proposed settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable.[11]

         1. ...


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