Earlier this week, firm clients Koninklijke Philips N.V., Philips North America LLC, Philips Taiwan, Limited and Philips do Brasil Ltda. scored a major appellate court victory in a long-running antitrust case. A class of indirect purchasers sued the Philips entities in the Northern District of California in 2007, accusing Philips of conspiring with other manufacturers to fix the price of Cathode Ray Tubes commonly used in televisions until the late-2000s. After vigorously defending the action for nearly a decade, Philips entered into a settlement agreement with the indirect purchaser class in 2015. The settlement was approved in 2016, but subsequently challenged on appeal by a group of objectors who asserted that their claims were released without compensation. Prior to the resolution of the appeals, District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar withdrew his approval of the settlements. In 2019, the parties agreed to a revised settlement which removed any claims purportedly held by potential objectors but did not increase the amount paid by Philips. The amended settlements, including those of other settling defendants, were approved in July 2020, despite additional challenges by non-class members and boilerplate, non-substantive objections from some purported members of the class.
Objectors again appealed the settlements in August 2020, arguing that they were unfairly excluded from the settlement. Philips and other defendants pushed back, noting, among other arguments, that certain objectors were non-members of the settling class and therefore lacked standing to appeal. Other purported settlement class objectors filed deficient, boilerplate objections that were properly struck by the District Court. The year-long briefing process culminated in oral argument before a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit in July 2021. The Ninth Circuit issued their opinion this week, agreeing with Philips and the other defendants that the non-class member objectors lacked standing to appeal and that the District Court had properly struck the deficient objections from the purported class members. The decision confirmed Philips’ settlement and remanded to the District Court for implementation of the settlement.
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