Capacitor antitrust case nears completion with deals worth $165 million


Subsidiaries of Matsuo Electric Co. and Nippon Chemi-Con Corp. moved closer to ending antitrust litigation over a global price-fixing scheme by capacitor manufacturers, when a federal judge in San Francisco granted preliminary approval to $165 million worth of settlements that the case’s total damages at approximately $605 million.

Judge James Donato tentatively signed the covenants Thursday, which would resolve class action lawsuits filed on behalf of the direct purchasers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. A parallel case from indirect purchasers and consumers has also been settled.

The multidistrict lawsuit, consolidated in 2017, accused dozens of mostly Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese companies of a sprawling conspiracy to inflate capacitor prices. Components, which store and regulate currents, are found in virtually all electronic devices.

The suit’s initial targets included electronics giants like Panasonic Corp., which sold for $45 million. Some individual lawsuits heard alongside class actions are still pending.

The fifth set of settlements, disclosed in late March, calls for payments of $5 million by Matsuo and $160 million by a group of Chemi-Con subsidiaries. The total haul of $604.5 million represents 141% of the overcharges paid by direct buyers, not including the availability of treble antitrust damages, according to court documents.

Lawyers for the direct buyers, who have already been awarded nearly $70 million in legal fees and more than $9 million in court costs, said in March they planned to seek an additional $66 million in fees, or 40% of new agreements.

Donato has scheduled a final settlement hearing for August 18. He gave potential class members until July 29 to file a complaint or opt out.

Joseph Saveri Law Firm LLP is lead counsel for the direct purchasers. Chemi-Con is represented by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Kaufhold Gaskin Gallagher LLP. Matsuo is represented by Morrison & Foerster LLP.

The case is In re Capacitors Antitrust Litig. (No. III.), ND Cal., No. 17-md-2801, 5/26/22.

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