Gloria Ross of Minneapolis has been waiting since December for her check from an LCD class action settlement. "It's been so long that I'm beginning to wonder if it's a hoax," she said. "Maybe they were just out to collect personal information."
Ross purchased two flat screen TVs and a computer monitor from 1999 to 2006, the time period affected by the settlement, and is expected to get a check for nearly $300,
She is one of 30,000 Minnesotans who are still waiting for a check, but lawyers close to the case say they shouldn't expect their cash anytime soon.
A number of objections have been filed to stall the $1.1 billion distribution of the largest price fixing antitrust settlement in history for consumers, said Joseph Alioto, a San Francisco attorney who co-led the case against the manufacturers. "I agree it's taking way too long," he said. "These objectors have enormous leverage to hold up the money."
The claim involves more than 10.5 million panels purchased by 235,000 consumers and businesses in 24 states and the District of Columbia after nine LCD flat screen manufacturers agreed to settle price-fixing claims on flat screen TVs, monitors and laptops out of court. Consumers who filed a claim before the Dec. 6, 2012 deadline are expected to receive checks of approximately $75 per monitor and $150 per flat panel TV.
Without objections, the checks probably would have gone out in May, but now the settlement for the distribution of funds cannot take place until after all appeals are filed. That can take several years, said Alioto, so he plans to file motions within the next two weeks attacking the appeals. "I am asking the court to make sure these claims (appeals) are worthy of holding up the settlement," he said.
Consumers could start seeing checks in as little as three months or as long as three years. "It all depends on how quickly we can resolve the appeals," said Dan Shulman an attorney at the Minneapolis law firm Gray Plant Mooty, one of more than 100 law firms, many of them small firms and sole proprietorships, managing the case in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
What's the nature of the objections? Alioto said they're unspecified, but he speculated that it might be due to the 28 percent of the settlement going to attorneys' fees. If that's the case, he will petition the judge to hold up only the lawyers' portion of the settlement and let the distribution of checks to consumers and small businesses begin sooner, he said.