JTEKT Corp. and its U.S. subsidiaries will pay $62.5 million to settle car buyers’ claims of auto parts price-fixing brought in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Michigan’s Eastern District. The settlement, which has yet to be approved by the court, will resolve claims that the Japanese company and other auto parts makers conspired to restrict competition for automotive bearings and electric powered steering assemblies in the U.S. It should be noted that class action lawsuits filed by other Plaintiffs against JTEKT are still pending.
The court had previously granted preliminary approval for a $34.5 million settlement reached by co-Defendant NSK Ltd. in the MDL. The litigation followed an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) into the auto parts industry that so far has resulted in more than $2.5 billion in fines and guilty pleas from dozens of companies and their executives. The price-fixing affected dozens of products that were sold to some of the largest automobile manufacturers in the U.S., including General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, the government said. Among the parts affected were windshield wipers, air conditioning systems and power steering assemblies.
Other companies implicated in the investigation included Hitachi Automotive Systems. Ltd., which agreed to pay a $195 million fine, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., which agreed to pay a $190 million fine, and Mistuba Corp., which paid a $135 million fine. Hollis Salzman, co-chair of Robins Kaplan LLP’s antitrust and trade regulation practice, told Law360:
With this settlement, end-payor plaintiffs have recovered more than $650 million in total on behalf of consumers and businesses that paid inflated prices for automobiles as a consequence of alleged rampant price-fixing in the market for automotive parts. Our work continues against the remaining defendants and we are committed to securing justice for individuals and businesses injured by this massive global price-fixing conspiracy.
The MDL is In re: Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The cases are Bearings–End-Payor Actions and Electronic Powered Steering Assemblies–End-Payor Actions, which are both in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
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