CHARLESTON -- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw has joined a growing number of state attorneys general who are suing the world's largest manufacturers of liquid crystal display, or LCD, panels.
McGraw filed his lawsuit on Tuesday, alleging the companies conspired to fix the prices of their products.
McGraw claims the defendants -- Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese companies -- conspired to prevent competition and to increase prices for LCD panels used in popular electronic devices such as desktop computer monitors, laptop computer screens and flat panel televisions.
"The price fixing of LCD panels, which are essential to our electronic economy, is intolerable," McGraw said in a statement. "This massive conspiracy resulted in artificially and illegally inflated prices of LCD panels at the expense of West Virginia taxpayers."
The suit claims that the defendants organized the conspiracy at the highest level of their organizations, in various secret meetings and telephone conversations over a period of years.
West Virginia filed the lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in the Northern District of California in cooperation with the attorneys general from Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas and Michigan.
Defendants named in the suit include electronic goods manufacturers: AU Optronics Corp.; AU Optronics Corp. America; Chimei Innolux Corp.; CMO Japan Co., Ltd.; Chi Mei Optoelectronics USA, Inc.; HannStar Display Corp.; Hitachi Ltd.; Hitachi Displays, Ltd.; Hitachi Electronic Devices USA, Inc.; LG Display Co., Ltd., LG Display America Inc.; Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.; Samsung Electronics America, Inc.; Samsung Semiconductor, Inc.; Sharp Corporation; and Sharp Electronics Corp.
Last week, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna announced he was suing the makers of Samsung, Toshiba, Sharp and five other brands of liquid crystal displays screens -- also alleging that they engaged in price-fixing.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also filed an antitrust action last week against 22 major technology companies alleging that the companies illegally fixed the prices for the LCD screens used in computers, televisions and cell phones.
Earlier this month, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a lawsuit against several major suppliers of the liquid crystal display screens, also claiming consumers paid extra because of price fixing.
Several of the companies have already to criminal price-fixing charges, paying more than $890 million in criminal fines to the U.S. Department of Justice.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at email@example.com.