Capacitors Antitrust Lawsuit
Berger Montague is counsel to a certified class of direct purchasers of aluminum and tantalum electrolytic capacitors and film capacitors.
Capacitors are a fundamental component of electrical circuits that store electric charge and, as such, are ubiquitous in electronic devices. This class action alleges that the major capacitor manufacturers, including Panasonic Corporation, SANYO Electric Co., Ltd., NEC TOKIN Corporation, KEMET Corporation, Nippon Chemi-Con Corporation, Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd., United Chemi-Con, Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., Nichicon Corporation, AVX Corporation, Rubycon Corporation, ELNA Co., Ltd., Matsuo Electric Co., Ltd., TOSHIN KOGYO Co., Ltd., Holy Stone Enterprise Co., Ltd., Vishay Polytech Co., Ltd., ROHM Co., Ltd., Okaya Electric Industries Co., Ltd., Taitsu Corporation, Shinyei Kaisha, Nitsuko Electronics Corporation, Nissei Electric Co., Ltd., Soshin Electric Co., Ltd., and Shizuki Electric Co., Ltd., conspired to raise capacitor prices in violation of antitrust laws. Criminal proceedings by the U.S. Department of Justice into potential antitrust violations in the capacitors industry are ongoing.
About the case
On May 26, 2015 and December 30, 2015, the district court entered orders denying almost all of the Defendants’ motions to dismiss. On November 11, 2018, the district court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification.
On June 27, 2017, the district court granted final approval of settlements totaling $32.6 million with Defendants Fujitsu, NEC Tokin, Nitsuko, Okaya, and Rohm. On June 28, 2018, the district court granted final approval of settlements totaling $66.9 million with Defendants Hitachi and Soshin. On May 16, 2019, the district court granted final approval of settlements totaling $108 million with Defendants Nichicon and Rubycon, including an additional $12 million in contingent payments based on Rubycon’s financial performance.
Jury trial commenced in February 2020 but was halted several weeks later due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, plaintiffs reached settlements with eight defendants (AVX, ELNA, Holy Stone, Panasonic, Shinyei, Taitsu, KEMET, and Shizuki) totaling $232.05 million. In September 2020, the Court granted final approval of the settlements, observing that “this case was especially hard-fought and litigated with skill on both sides, and presented significant risks to plaintiffs’ counsel.” Case No. 3:17-md-02801-JD (N.D. Cal.), ECF No. 1406.
Only three defendants – Matsuo, NCC, and UCC – remain of the 24 defendants initially named in plaintiffs’ case. The Court indicated that it will be setting a status conference for the parties to discuss a new date for trial, possibly as early as January 2021 “pending the public health situation and other external factors that may remain uncertain for some time.” Id.
To date, plaintiffs have obtained settlements totaling $451.55 million for the direct purchaser class.