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California Cities May be Eligible for Payment in Multi-State Dynamic Random Access Memory Computer Chips Settlement

March 7, 2014
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced on Wednesday a $310 million multi-state settlement with major manufacturers of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) computer chips over price fixing allegations.
 
The settlements will pay individuals, businesses and government entities that purchased DRAM or devices containing DRAM from someone other than the manufacturer of DRAM in the United States or any of its territories from Jan. 1, 1998 through Dec. 31, 2002. In addition, defendants have agreed not to engage in the conduct that is the subject of the lawsuits, and have also agreed to compliance training and cooperation.
 
California cities that purchased computers, printers, or other electronic devices with DRAM memory between 1998 and 2002 are eligible to make a claim before Aug. 1, 2014 and could receive money from the settlements. Under the settlements, cities have the following options:
  • File a claim and, if qualified, receive a payment.
  • Ask to be excluded from the settlements. Under this option, a city will retain any rights it currently has to separately sue defendants for the conduct that is the subject of these lawsuits.
  • Object to the settlements. Cites can write to the court explaining why they do not like the settlements.
  • Attend the hearing and ask to speak in court about the settlements.
  • Do nothing and give up any rights it currently has to separately sue defendants for the conduct that is the subject of the lawsuit.  However, cities may still receive a payment.
The lawsuits stem from an investigation that was completed in 2006. In that year, California, with other states, filed an antitrust suit alleging that consumers over-paid for electronic devices containing DRAM chips for purchases made from 1998 to 2002. DRAM is a common form of memory chip found in computers and other information technology devices and home entertainment systems.
 
The settlement, reached in conjunction with class actions, pays individuals, businesses and state and local governments that purchased these chips or devices containing these chips in the United States between 1998 and 2002 from someone other than a DRAM manufacturer, such as retailers like Best Buy or Staples. The settlement also requires that these DRAM manufacturers implement antitrust compliance programs and enjoins them from certain conduct related to the sale of DRAM that would violate antitrust laws.
 
For more information about the settlements, please visit the California Attorney General’s website.


 
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