Law Street Media

Plaintiffs File Amended Complaint in Hard Drive Component Antitrust Suit

A magnetic hard drive.

part of a open harddisk, toned image

Several dozen plaintiffs from across the country have filed their third amended class action complaint against ten Chinese, Japanese, and Thai hard disk drive (HDD) suspension assembly manufacturers and sellers for conspiracy to fix and raise prices of the products, found in electronic storage devices, computers, and other consumer electronics. The case follows several criminal enforcement actions by the Department of Justice, culminating in guilty pleas and fines in the tens of millions.

According to last week’s filing, the defendants are TDK Corporation, Magnecomp Precision Technology Public Co. Ltd., Magnecomp Corporation, SAE Magnetics (H.K.) Ltd., Hutchinson Technology Inc., NHK Spring Co. Ltd. and several related entities, and NAT Peripheral (Dong Guan) Co. Ltd., and two of its corporate relatives.

The “end-user” plaintiffs are consumers who allege they bought electronics containing price-fixed components during the class period: Jan. 1, 2003 through at least May 2016. Brand name devices containing the HDD suspension assemblies at issue include Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Lenovo, Toshiba, and Western Digital.

The suit alleges a global conspiracy among the defendants and their co-conspirators to fix prices of, and allocate market shares for HDD suspension assemblies, a fact which it claims “is not in doubt.” In support, the filing points to guilty pleas secured by the DOJ against NHK and several of its HDD sales directors in 2019.

According to the pleas, the defendants controlled 97% of the global HDD suspension parts market. To fix prices and allocate market shares, the defendants reportedly met and exchanged sensitive pricing information impacting the United States market and others.

The plaintiffs aver that the consequence was a restraint of trade and increased prices to consumers. The suit seeks to certify end user classes from nearly every state and the District of Columbia. It seeks to recover damages including treble damages pursuant to state antitrust, unfair competition, and consumer protection laws, and the laws of unjust enrichment.

The end-user plaintiffs are represented by interim co-lead counsel Robins Kaplan LLP and Zelle LLP.

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