Mitsubishi Electric Corp. will pay $84.4 million to settle claims by car buyers and auto dealers in multidistrict litigation (MDL) accusing the company of conspiring with others to fix prices on auto parts. Mitsubishi will pay $64.23 million to the end payors and $20.2 million to the auto dealers to resolve their claims that it conspired to allocate the supply of auto parts and sell them at noncompetitive prices in the U.S. and elsewhere, according to motions for preliminary approval of the proposed settlements.
The MDL against manufacturers, marketers and sellers had been split into separate proceedings for different automotive parts. The parts at issue in the instant suits include alternators, starters, ignition coils, fuel injection systems, valve timing control devices, wire harness systems, hid ballasts and electronic powered steering assemblies. Total payments in the case are now more than $288 million. The litigation will continue against the remaining nonsettling Defendants. The cases are part of a sprawling MDL that followed the U.S. Department of Justice’s expensive, ongoing investigation into the auto parts industry that has yielded more than $2 billion in fines.
In April of last year, Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd. had agreed to pay $46.7 million to settle claims that it fixed prices on auto parts in the MDL. In September, when announcing a $50 million settlement with Japanese manufacturer Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd., lawyers for the end payors said total settlements for the Plaintiffs’ group had surpassed $200 million.
A Michigan federal judge has approved a settlement between Mitsubishi, Takata Corp. and a number of other auto companies, dismissing three individual consumers from the multidistrict litigation without prejudice. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Subsequently, a Toyota Camry owner objected to multimillion-dollar settlements that auto parts companies had agreed to with end payors in multidistrict litigation of an alleged price-fixing scheme. The owner claimed the settlements invite “minitrials” and fraudulent claims.
Last month’s filings by the end payors and the auto dealers said Mitsubishi’s alleged cooperation under the terms of the proposed settlement will help them litigate their claims against the remaining Defendants. It was stated in the filing with the court:
The [end payors and auto dealers] believe that this cooperation will show that one of the nonsettling defendants — the largest conspirator in these cases — withheld critical evidence from the DOJ [Department of Justice], this court and the [plaintiffs] in this litigation.
The automobile dealer Plaintiffs are represented by interim liaison counsel Gerard V. Mantese of Mantese Honigman PC and interim co-lead counsel Jonathan W. Cuneo, Joel Davidow and Victoria Romanenko of Cuneo Gilbert & Laduca LLP, Don Barrett and David McMullan of Barrett Law Group PA, and Shawn M. Raiter of Larson King LLP. The end-payor Plaintiffs are represented by E. Powell Miller and Devon P. Allard of The Miller Law Firm PC, Steven N. Williams, Adam J. Zapala and Elizabeth Tran of Cotchett Pitre McCarthy LLP, Hollis Salzman, Bernard Persky and William V. Reiss of Robins Kaplan LLP, and Marc M. Seltzer, Steven G. Sklaver, Terrell W. Oxford and Omar Ochoa of Susman Godfrey LLP. The MDL is in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.