A.G. Schneiderman Announces Court Approval Of Antitrust Settlements Worth $310 Million To Benefit Purchasers Of Computers And Other Devices Containing Dram Memory Chips

Case Arose Out Of Claims By Attorneys General That Sellers Of DRAM Memory Chips Colluded To Inflate Prices

Schneiderman: My Office Will Continue To Ensure That New York Consumers Victimized By Unlawful Cartels Receive Adequate Compensation

NEW YORK– Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that consumers can now file claims to recover money due to them from a $310 million fund created as a result of settling litigation brought by New York and several other states against the major manufacturers of Dynamic Random Access Memory (“DRAM”) computer chips. The settlements, which were recently preliminarily approved by the Court, arose out of claims by the New York Attorney General and other states that the major DRAM manufactures conspired to fix prices. Consumers who purchased devices containing DRAM chips, typically computers, between 1998 and 2002, when the alleged conspiracy was taking place, may now submit claims for compensation from the fund.

“Illegal price-fixers are an affront to our free-market system and should not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “New York has been a leader in antitrust enforcement for more than a century, and companies should be aware that my office will aggressively intervene to stop anti-competitive behavior and obtain compensation for injured New Yorkers.”

In the wake of a federal probe of the DRAM industry, New York completed its own year-long investigation in 2006 and filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court against DRAM manufacturers, alleging that New York’s consumers overpaid millions of dollars for electronic devices containing DRAM. DRAM is a common form of memory chip found in desktop computers and other high-technology devices, such as laptop computers, printers and video game consoles. The New York Attorney General’s office litigated its claims against the DRAM cartel participants over multiple years in federal courts in New York and California. 

The settlements between New York and several major DRAM manufacturers, reached in conjunction with a similar lawsuit filed by a group of other states and class actions filed on behalf of consumers, provide for compensation to individuals and businesses that purchased DRAM chips or devices containing DRAM chips in the United States from 1998 to 2002. More specifically, the settlements permit claims by individuals and others who purchased products that contain DRAM from computer manufacturers such as Dell or HP, from retailers such as Best Buy or Staples, or through any other source. The settlements also require the DRAM manufacturers to implement antitrust compliance programs and enjoin them from engaging in certain conduct that would violate the antitrust laws.

To receive money from the settlement, eligible consumers must submit a claim form by August 1, 2014, with the settlements’ administrator. The amount of money received depends on the type and quantity of electronic devices a claimant has purchased, and the total number of claims made. Individuals who purchased DRAM or products containing DRAM may receive up to the entire amount of the overpayment they made due to the alleged price fixing and are guaranteed a payment of at least $10. Consumers are not necessarily required to have purchase receipts or other documents in order to file a claim.

Any consumer who purchased one or more of the following between 1998 and 2002 is eligible to make a claim: 

  • Desktop computers
  • Laptop computers
  • Computer servers
  • Computer graphics cards 
  • Printers
  • Video game consoles
  • MP3 players
  • PDAs
  • DVD players
  • Digital video recorders. 

If you purchased other technology devices also containing DRAM memory, you also may be eligible to make a claim. 

No payments resulting from the settlement will be made until the court has granted final approval to the settlements, including the resolution of any appeals. It is anticipated that final approval will occur within the next two years. Also, if too many or too few claims are received, the Court may order that the settlement funds be provided to public or non-profit organizations in addition to or instead of consumers who file claims.

To file a claim, or for more information about the settlements, consumers may visit www.DRAMclaims.com or call 1-800-589-1425. 

Following final approval, the Attorney General’s Office expects to make a further announcement concerning an additional recovery by the State to compensate for overcharges to governmental agencies for purchases under State contracts. 

New York’s investigation and litigation was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jeremy R. Kasha, with assistance from Assistant Attorney General Saami Zain and paralegal Arlene Leventhal. Former Acting Antitrust Bureau Chief Richard L. Schwartz also played a major role in the matter. The Antitrust Bureau, led by Eric J. Stock, is part of the Economic Justice Division, led by Karla G. Sanchez.

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