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In re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litig.

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

December 26, 2012, Decided; December 26, 2012, Filed

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

Opinion

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO PURCHASES OF PANELS MADE BY SUPPOSED CONSPIRATORS NOT ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINTS

On November 2, 2012, the Court held a hearing on defendants' motion for summary judgment as to purchases of panels made by supposed conspirators not alleged in the complaints. After the hearing, the Court directed the parties to file supplemental declarations; those declarations were filed on November 7 and November 12, 2012. For the reasons set forth in this order, defendants' motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Docket Nos. 6178, 6350.

BACKGROUND

To calculate indirect purchaser damages, plaintiffs' experts Dr. Leslie Marx (testifying for the Target, Electrograph, and AT&T plaintiffs) and Dr. Alan Frankel (testifying for the Best Buy plaintiffs) calculated the total combined market share of the supposed participants in the conspiracy, and multiplied that against each plaintiff's total indirect purchases  [*42] to show the total indirect purchases of products containing panels made by the alleged conspirators ("the market share approach"). In calculating panel market share, both experts included purported co-conspirators that are not named in plaintiffs' complaints.1

As an alternative to the market share approach, Dr. Marx also calculated damages based on the "umbrella theory." ] The umbrella theory hypothesizes that a successful price-fixing conspiracy among certain firms creates a "price umbrella" that allows non-conspiring competitor firms to raise their prices without fear of losing market share. In re Coordinated Pretrial Proceedings in Petroleum Products Antitrust Litigation, 691 F.2d 1335, 1339 (9th Cir. 1982) ("The umbrella theory is essentially  [*43] a consequential damages theory. It seeks to hold price-fixers liable for harm allegedly flowing from the illegal conduct even though the price-fixing defendants received none of the illegal gains and were uninvolved in their competitors' pricing decisions."). In making the "umbrella theory" damages calculations, Dr. Marx included all of plaintiffs' purchases of TFT-LCD products, including purchases from non-conspirators.

LEGAL STANDARD

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2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182374 *; 2012-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) P78,191

IN RE: TFT-LCD (FLAT PANEL) ANTITRUST LITIGATION. This Order Relates to: AT&T Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp., et al., C 09-4997 SI, Best Buy Co., Inc. v. AU Optronics Corp., et al., C 10-4572 SI, Electrograph Systems, Inc. v. Epson Imaging Devices Corp., et al., C 10-0117 SI, Target Corp. v. AU Optronics Corp., et al., C 10-4945 SI

Subsequent History: Motion denied by In re TFT-Lcd Flat Panel Antitrust Litig., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182737 (N.D. Cal., Dec. 26, 2012)

Prior History: In re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litig., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182373 (N.D. Cal., Dec. 26, 2012)

Disposition: Court granted summary judgment for defendants, in part, holding that plaintiffs could not recover damages from companies not named as conspirators in complaints.

CORE TERMS

umbrella, co-conspirators, entities, discovery, conspiracy, antitrust, speculative, calculated, non-moving, purported, cut-off, conspirators, price-fixing, indirect, vertical, genuine, unnamed, notice

Antitrust & Trade Law, Price Fixing & Restraints of Trade, Vertical Restraints, Price Fixing, Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Burdens of Proof, Movant Persuasion & Proof, Nonmovant Persuasion & Proof, Evidentiary Considerations, Scintilla Rule, Judgments, Evidentiary Considerations, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, General Overview, Torts, Concerted Action, Civil Conspiracy