Blog : class action

District Court Preliminarily Approves Settlement in Akaosugi v. Benihana National Corporation

On August 20, 2012, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California preliminarily approved the class action settlement reached by the parties in Akaosugi v. Benihana National Corp., Case No. 11-cv-01272 (WHA).

The Settlement Class, which consists of current and former employees of Benihana-branded teppanyaki-style restaurants in California, alleged that Benihana required employees to forfeit vacation pay in violation of California wage laws. Benihana denies any wrongdoing, and the Court has not made any finding on the merits of the claims. The parties’ settlement remains subject to final Court approval.

Lewis Feinberg is co-counsel for the class along with Minami Tamaki LLP. A court-approved notice of the proposed settlement will be mailed by October 3, 2012. A final approval hearing will be held on January 24, 2013.

Recorder: ‘LCD Makers to Pay $539M to Settle Civil Antitrust Suits’

The Recorder last week reported on a case in which Minami Tamaki partner Jack Lee is the court-appointed liaison. See article below.  Bloomberg also reported on the settlement.

The plaintiffs in the case allege that Samsung, Hitachi, Sharp and others “engaged in a worldwide, multiyear conspiracy to fix prices and hinder competition related to TFT-LCD panels, which are in TVs, notebooks and monitors.”

LCD Makers to Pay $539M to Settle Civil Antitrust Suits
By Ginny LaRoe, The Recorder
December 23, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO — On the heels of a plaintiff-friendly ruling in the TFT-LCD antitrust litigation, a group of manufacturer defendants is poised to settle for $539 million.

Co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel Francis Scarpulla of Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason and Joseph M. Alioto of Alioto Law Firm filed a motion for preliminary settlement approval on behalf of indirect purchaser plaintiffs and state attorneys general on Friday. They asked U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to sign off on a deal to resolve price-fixing claims against Samsung, Hitachi, Sharp, Chimei, Chunghwa, Epson and HannStar.

Plaintiffs allege the makers engaged in a worldwide, multiyear conspiracy to fix prices and hinder competition related to TFT-LCD panels, which are in TVs, notebooks and monitors.

The filing comes after Illston earlier this month rejected defendants’ renewed bid to toss the case for lack of antitrust standing on the part of indirect purchaser plaintiffs, saying the plaintiffs alleged injuries and the direct link between defendants’ alleged anti-competitive conduct “place this case squarely within the type of suit the antitrust laws were meant to address.”

Earlier this year a group of defendants settled with direct purchaser plaintiffs for around $388 million.

Plaintiffs asked for a Jan. 20 hearing before Illston, who presides over the consolidated multidistrict litigation and related criminal action.

Minami Tamaki partner Jack Lee is the court-appointed liaison in the action.

Court Approves Class Action Status for LCD Price Fixing Lawsuit

Jack Lee and Brad YamauchiIn late March, U.S. District Judge Susan Y. Illston in San Francisco certified a price fixing class action lawsuit filed by Minami Tamaki LLP as a class action on behalf of customers of liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) or products containing them.

Partners Jack Lee (left photo) and Brad Yamauchi (right photo) filed the lawsuit in 2007 against Samsung Electronics, LG Philips, Sharp, Toshiba, Hitachi, and others, alleging violation of antitrust and unfair competition laws, on behalf of all owners of LCD displays who were overcharged due to a price fixing scheme.

The firm is seeking money damages from the defendants, including restitution of all profits illegally obtained from overcharging the public. Price fixing occurs when vendors cooperate to set prices for their products at artificially high levels.

The firm has been deeply involved in trial preparation for the case in anticipation of a likely trial date in 2011.