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COMPETITION - Conspiracy - Civil remedies

Friday, June 11, 2021 @ 5:43 AM  

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Motion by the plaintiffs for approval of a settlement with the Panasonic defendants. Motion by plaintiffs’ counsel for approval of class counsel fees and disbursements. This was a price-fixing conspiracy action commenced in August 2014. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants participated in an unlawful conspiracy to fix, maintain, increase, or control the price and supply of aluminum and tantalum electrolytic capacitors. Parallel actions were commenced in British Columbia and Quebec. The settlement took place relatively early in the procedural life of the action. The action was previously certified for settlement approval purposes. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Panasonic would pay $5.9 million for the benefit of the class and would also provide cooperation. The cooperation would offer a window into the alleged conspiracy, how it worked, and who was involved. In return, the Panasonic defendants would get certainty and closure. The action would be dismissed as against them. No objections were received. Plaintiffs’ counsel sought approval of counsel fees of $1,487,500 plus HST, which was 25 per cent of the settlement amount. The retainer agreement provided for a payment of up to 30 per cent subject to court approval. Counsel also sought approval for payment of disbursements of $141,866 and applicable taxes.

HELD: Motions allowed. Both sides were represented by very experienced counsel. The settlement was the product of lengthy, adversarial negotiations. Conspiracy actions were notoriously difficult to successfully prosecute. The settlement provided real and significant benefits to the plaintiff class. It was fair, reasonable and in the best interests of the class. The retainer agreements were approved. The action was complex and carried significant risk for counsel. Counsel were experienced class action litigators. The recovery to the class through the settlement with the Panasonic defendants provided real benefits to the class. The 25 per cent requested was fair and reasonable. The disbursements sought were also reasonable.

Cygnus Electronics Corp. v. Panasonic Corp., [2021] O.J. No. 2203, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, R.M. Raikes J., April 13, 2021. Digest No. TLD-June72021013