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Lawsuits accuse lithium ion battery makers of price fixing

The world’s largest manufacturers of rechargeable lithium ion batteries and their North Jersey and California subsidiaries are being sued for allegedly engaging in a decade-long conspiracy to fix prices on the batteries used to power portable computers, cellphones, cameras and other electronic devices.

At least 11 lawsuits, brought on behalf of 13 plaintiffs from Englewood to Los Angeles, have been filed in U.S. District Court in Newark since October, the most recent on Friday.

The suits, which seek to be designated as class actions, aim to represent hundreds of thousands of consumers who purchased rechargeable lithium ion batteries made, marketed or sold by the defendants, or electronics products that came equipped with such batteries.

Consumers have been forced to pay artificially inflated prices for the batteries since 2002 as a result of anti-competitive practices, the suits allege. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages and an end to such practices.

Among the companies named as defendants are LG Chem America, Inc., an Englewood Cliffs subsidiary of the South Korean firm LG Chem, Ltd.; Secaucus-based Panasonic Corporation of North America; and Maxell Corp. of America of Woodland Park. Sanyo, Sony, Samsung and Hitachi also were sued.

“This is a matter under litigation so it would be inappropriate for us to comment,” said Jim Reilly, a spokesman for Panasonic Corporation of North America.
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