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In re TFT-LCD Antitrust Litig.

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

August 25, 2008, Decided; August 25, 2008, Filed

No. M 07-1827 SI; MDL. No. 1827

Opinion

 [*1113]  ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS  [**3] COMPLAINTS

Now before the Court are defendants' motions to dismiss the consolidated complaints filed by the direct and indirect purchaser plaintiffs. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that the consolidated complaints meet the standard enunciated in Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007), because the complaints allege parallel conduct in addition to a number of other facts plausibly suggesting an agreement to fix prices. However, the Court agrees that as currently drafted, the consolidated complaints lack sufficient allegations specific to each defendant, and accordingly will GRANT defendants' motions in that respect and GRANT plaintiffs leave to amend. The Court finds that both the direct and indirect purchaser plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged antitrust standing. The Court also finds that, as a pleading matter, plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged fraudulent concealment such that it is inappropriate to dismiss any claims as time-barred. With regard to the indirect purchaser plaintiffs, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part defendants' motions to dismiss various state law claims.

BACKGROUND

Defendants are a number of American and foreign  [**4] companies that manufactured, sold and/or distributed Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Display ("TFT-LCD") panels and products to customers throughout the United States. The direct purchaser plaintiffs filed this antitrust class  [*1114]  action on behalf of all persons and entities who purchased a panel or product containing a TFT-LCD panel in the United States from the named defendants, any subsidiaries or affiliates thereof, or any co-conspirators as identified in the complaint, between January 1, 1996 and December 11, 2006. DP-CC P 1. The indirect purchaser plaintiffs are fifty-four individuals and business entities who allege that they indirectly purchased LCD panels when they purchased products such as computer monitors, laptop computers, televisions, and mobile phones containing LCD panels, during roughly the same time period. IP-CAC PP 18-72. 1 

TFT-LCDs are used in a number of products, including but not limited to computer monitors, laptop computers, televisions, and cellular phones. According to the complaints, TFT-LCD panels are made by  [**5] sandwiching liquid crystal compound between two pieces of glass called substrates. The resulting screen contains hundreds of thousands of electrically charged dots, called pixels, that form an image. The panel is then combined with a backlight unit, a driver, and other equipment to create a "module" allowing the panel to operate and be integrated into a television, computer monitor, or other product. The complaints allege that the core products during most of the class period were displays for laptop computers and computer monitors. DP-CC P 86; IP-CAC P 109.

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586 F. Supp. 2d 1109 *; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65535 **; 2008-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) P76,427

IN RE: TFT-LCD (FLAT PANEL) ANTITRUST LITIGATION; This Order Relates to: ALL CASES

Prior History: In re TFT-LCD Antitrust Litig., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54724 (N.D. Cal., May 27, 2008)

CORE TERMS

indirect, antitrust, conspiracy, consumers, price-fixing, deceptive, unfair, entities, concealment, consolidated, finished, fraudulent, notice, inappropriate, commerce, misleading, diligence, monitors, interchangeability, manufacturers, time-barred, enrichment, restrained, household, publicly, unjust, cross-elasticity, unconscionable, speculative, televisions

Civil Procedure, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Responses, Motions to Dismiss, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Antitrust & Trade Law, Monopolies & Monopolization, Conspiracy to Monopolize, Elements, Sherman Act, Sherman Act, Claims, Private Actions, Standing, Requirements, General Overview, Clayton Act, Jurisdiction, Regulated Practices, Governments, Legislation, Statute of Limitations, Remedies, Damages, Purchasers, Indirect Purchasers, Trade Practices & Unfair Competition, State Regulation, Scope