Stoll Berne Investigating Lithium Ion Battery Manufacturers

Stoll Berne is investigating allegations that several of the largest lithium ion battery manufacturers, including LG Chem, Ltd. (KSE: 051910.KS), Panasonic Corporation(NYSE: PC), Sanyo Corporation (TAI: 1614.TW), Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), Samsung SDI (KSE: 006405.KS), Hitachi, Ltd. (OTC: HTHIY) and Maxell Corporation of America, conspired to fix and artificially increase the price of the batteries, inflating the cost of computers and other portable devices.

Lithium ion batteries are commonly used in consumer electronic products, including cell phones, notebook computers, digital cameras and power tools including drills and chain saws.  Thousands of Oregon consumers have purchased products that contain lithium ion batteries and numerous Oregon companies either use devices that contain lithium ion batteries or manufacture products that contain these types of rechargeable or secondary batteries.

News reports indicate that the U.S. Department of Justice is conducting an investigation into companies in Korea and Japan.  According to a recently filed lawsuit, battery prices fell by nearly 50 percent when several Korean companies entered the market in the early 2000s.  The lawsuit claims that, in response, the Japanese companies who had long controlled the market entered into an illegal price-fixing agreement, resulting in a stabilization of prices that lasted until 2008.

In 2008, the lawsuit claims that the defendants received notice that they were being investigated for price-fixing activities by both U.S. and European regulators. Almost immediately after the investigations were disclosed, prices began to fall again, about 10 percent in three months.

Anyone who purchased either a lithium ion battery or a device containing a lithium-ion battery, such as a notebook computer, digital camera, or cell phone, between Jan. 1, 2002 and the present, may have overpaid because of the alleged price-fixing scheme.

If you have purchased a rechargeable lithium ion battery from any of the following manufacturers (Panasonic Corporation, Sanyo, Hitachi, Maxell Corporation of America, Sony Corporation, Samsung, LG Corporation) sometime during the last ten years or if you have questions or information relating to potentially anti-competitive practices by these companies, please contact Keith Dubanevich at Stoll Berne.


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