Hard disk drives (HDDs) use a component called an HDD suspension assembly. The complaint for this class action alleges that a long list of HDD suspension assembly makers and suppliers conspired to fix prices and allocate markets for those components. The defendants include NHK Spring Co. Ltd.; NHK International Corporation; NAT Peripheral (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd.; NAT Peripheral (Dong Guan) Co., Ltd.; NHK Spring (Thailand) Co., Ltd.; TDK Corporation; Magnecomp Precision Technology Public Co. Ltd.; SAE Magnetics (H.K.) LTD; Hutchinson Technology Inc.
HDDs are used in computers, gaming consoles, and MP3 players, or are sold as standalone devices. HDD suspension assemblies hold a magnetic head suspended above the spinning hard disk which is used to read and write information.
The complaint alleges, “Pursuant to their anticompetitive agreements not to compete, Defendants exchanged pricing information, including anticipated pricing quotes, which they used to inform their negotiations with U.S. and foreign customers that purchased suspension assemblies and produced hard disk drives for sale in, or delivery to, the U.S. and elsewhere.”
This activity did not go unnoticed by various national authorities. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation into HDD suspension assemblies by July 2016. The complaint says, “In July 2019, DOJ filed a one-count information in this court against NHK Spring Co. Ltd., charging the company with fixing prices on HDD Suspension Assemblies. NHK Spring has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $28.5 million criminal fine…”
The Japanese Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) also investigated, raiding NHK Spring and TDK locations on suspicion of collusion. Eventually, NHK Spring and one of its subsidiaries was fined 1.1 billion yen (nearly $10 million), while TDK began cooperating with Japanese regulators.
South Korea and Brazil have also been investigating companies’ anticompetitive activities.
Why file a class action, if all these authorities are already on top of things? Not all the parties named in this case have been charged, found guilty, or fined. Also, the fines levied by national authorities do not go to the victims of the conspiracies—the buyers of the products who were forced by the conspiracy to pay more than they should have.
The class for this action is all persons and entities who indirectly purchased HDD suspension assemblies from Defendants in the US, between May 2008 and at least April 2016, whether they were purchased as a standalone replacement product or as a component of a new piece of electronic hardware, in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, or Wyoming.