US firms could get $10 per PC payout from DVD drive class-action settlement

Seven DVD drive makers have established a $180m fund to settle a class-action lawsuit - which means some DVD drive buyers could be eligible for a payout.

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US firms that bought a PC with a DVD drive between 2003 and 2008 could be eligible for a $10 payout for each machine.

Seven DVD drive makers have established a $180m fund to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused them of conspiring to artificially raise the price of optical drives sold to computer makers and retailers.

The settlement fund previously stood at $124.5m, but recently rose after Pioneer, PLDS and Teac joined Panasonic, HLDS, NEC and Sony in agreeing to settle the case.

While it has been reported that consumers would be eligible for payouts, one of the partners at the law firm handling the suit has said businesses can also qualify and there is no upper limit on claims. However, large claims may be audited to protect against fraud, with some businesses supplying purchase orders to back up their claims.

"We are proud of these seven settlements, which reflect a tremendous recovery for the class and a huge amount of work by the class representatives," said Shana Scarlett, partner with Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

"We look forward to continuing to vigorously represent the indirect purchaser class."

Firms and consumers may be eligible for a payout if they purchased a PC with a DVD drive, or a standalone DVD drive from April 2003 to December 2008, and were resident in a qualifying region. These regions are Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wisconsin.

Claims can be made via this website, which asks each claimant to provide their name, contact details, and how many computers they bought. They can be submitted by those who, directly or indirectly, bought drives from Pioneer, PLDS and Teac until August 1st.

The conspiracy claims in the case center on manufacturers accused of colluding to inflate the prices of optical drives sold to computer manufacturers and retailers. As noted by ZDNet's sister site CNET, at least one Hitachi-LG executive was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to the conspiracy.

Scarlett says that once the total number of claims is known, the settlement fund will be divided pro rata by the number of claimants, and the number of drives purchased by each claimant.