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Snail mail is considered an antiquated way of doing business, but some organizations across Canada will soon get a very interesting letter telling them they qualify for a rebate.

It’s a result of a settlement between a group of Canadians in a class action price-fixing lawsuit. Five manufacturers of LCD panels for laptops, computer monitors and televisions — including Samsung Electronics — have agreed to set aside $37.6 million to compensate organizations and consumers who bought products between January, 1998 and December 2006.

(After legal and other fees the amount for disbursement will be about $25 million.)

A number of the manufacturers made panels that were put in equipment for brand names like Apple, Dell, HP and IBM.

As part of the agreement the manufactures didn’t admit wrong-doing.

The letters will go to any Canadian organization that bought LCD products direct from one of the manufacturers. They don’t have to provide proof of sale unless they want to contest the manufacturer’s account of what was bought.

But Linda Visser, a partner in the Toronto law firm Siskinds LLC, who represented defendants in all provinces except B.C. and Quebec — who were represented by separate law firms — said in an interview organizations that bought through distributors and resellers have to file a claim with receipts, accounting records or other material by Dec. 9 online or by mail.

Consumers don’t have to provide proof of purchase, but they can only claim up to two items.

Claimants don’t have to worry about who made the panels, Visser said, only that they bought a device with an LDC panel.

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Visser said the lawyers hope that claimants could get between $20 and $25 for each unit purchased. It could be more, because a separate group of manufacturers.

She couldn’t estimate how many laptops, monitors or flat-screen TVs the settlement would cover. But, she added, “if you’re talking a large insurance company or something like that, or hotel chain that’s buying televisions for all its rooms,  we’re going to have companies that have significant purchases,” she said.

Those who settled (and the amount they agreed to put into the pool) are

–Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd. of Taiwan – $2,023,000;

–Epson Imaging Devices Corporation (formerly known as Sanyo Epson Imaging Devices Corporation) – $1,200,000

–Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Samsung Electronics Canada Inc. – $21,250,000

–Innolux Corporation (successor to Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corporation) – $10,000,000

–Japan Display Inc. (successor to Hitachi Displays, Ltd.) (“JDI”) on its behalf and on behalf of Hitachi Ltd., Hitachi Canada, Ltd., Hitachi America Ltd., Hitachi Electronics Devices (USA) Inc. – $3,150,000.

There are still price-fixing allegations in Canadian courts against a number of other manufacturers, including LG Philips LCD Co., Ltd.; Sharp Corp. and its Canadian subsidiary; Toshiba Corp. and its Canadian subsidiary; AU Optronics Corp.America, and Hannstar Display Corp.

Depending on the result of those actions buyers could get back more money, Visser said.

Visser said the Ontario class action lawsuit was started by Fanshawe College of London, Ont.



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