HP wins US$439 mil as judge triples jury price-fix award

NEW YORK: HP Inc was awarded US$439 million in damages against Quanta Storage Inc and its US subsidiary after a federal judge tripled a jury’s 2019 award for damages caused by a widespread scheme to inflate the price of optical disk drives.

In October, a Houston jury ordered Quanta to pay HP US$176 million in damages. US District Judge David Hittner said Friday that Quanta hadn’t shown any reason why the jury’s findings should be set aside.

He tripled the damages award, as authorised under antitrust law, to US$528 million before deducting the US$89 million in settlements paid by the other companies HP accused of participating in the price-fixing scheme.

Other disk-drive makers like Hitachi-LG, Sony and Panasonic settled with HP over the past decade. Only Taiwan-based Quanta chose to go to trial.

Andrew Lusby, an attorney for Quanta, said Friday the company was not commenting at this time on the tripled damages.

The company had argued to Hittner that tripling damages would violate constitutional prohibitions on excessive punitive damages. But the judge rejected that argument, pointing out that antitrust law allows for tripling awards as compensatory rather than punitive damages.

“HP hopes this judgment sends a powerful message to suppliers all over the world that there are significant consequences when you violate US antitrust laws,” Alex B. Roberts, HP’s lawyer, said in an email after Hittner ruled.

The case is Hewlett-Packard Co v Quanta Storage, 4:18-762, US District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).