Mitsuba Corp. and its U.S. unit have agreed to pay $22.8 million to settle claims that they took part in a massive conspiracy to fix prices of a variety of auto parts. A motion seeking preliminary approval of a proposed settlement was filed last month in a Michigan federal court. According to the settlement, Mitsuba will settle claims brought by proposed classes of auto dealers and others who indirectly bought windshield wiper systems, radiators, starters, automotive lamps, electric powered steering assemblies, fan motors, fuel injection systems, power window motors and windshield washer systems.
The claims against Mitsuba are part of the multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Michigan federal court over an alleged antitrust conspiracy involving a large number of auto part manufacturers.
The claims are specifically part of nine lawsuits within the MDL, each addressing a different type of part. The windshield wiper system class would receive the largest portion of the settlement funds, at $10.4 million, followed by power windows at $6.1 million, $3 million for starters, $1.2 million each for radiators and fan motors, $489,000 for windshield washers, $435,000 for fuel injectors, $76,000 for automotive lamps and $53,000 for powered steering.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has investigated similar antitrust claims and Mitsuba previously pled guilty to allegations that it took part in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition between at least January 2000 and February 2010. The company agreed to cooperate with the DOJ’s investigation and pay a $135 million criminal fine. Other manufacturers have settled out of the MDL, including Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd., which agreed to pay $11.4 million to resolve claims pertaining to the antitrust conspiracy.
The MDL is In re: Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation, (case number 2:12-md-02311). The cases involving Mitsuba are In re: Windshield Wiper Systems, (case number 2:13-cv-00902); In re: Radiators, (case number 2:13-cv-01002); In re: Starters, (case number 2:13-cv-01102); In re: Automotive Lamps, (case number 2:13-cv-01202); In re: Electric Powered Steering Assemblies, (case number 2:13-cv-01902); In re: Fan Motors, (case number 2:13-cv-02102); In re: Fuel Injection Systems, (case number 2:13-cv-02202); In re: Power Window Motors, (case number 2:13-cv-02302); and In re: Windshield Washer Systems, (case number 2:13-cv-02802). All cases are in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.