DETROIT (Oct. 18, 3:15 p.m. ET) — Four class-action federal lawsuits have been filed against several global automotive suppliers over alleged price fixing of certain parts that inflated the cost of vehicles.
The suits, three filed this month in U.S. District Court in Detroit and one in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, by three vehicle owners allege that a price-fixing scheme to raise the price of wire harnesses in turn raised the price of their vehicles.
Named in the suits are Lear Corp., Delphi Automotive LLP, Yazaki North America Inc., Furukawa Electric Co., Leoni AG, Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd., S-Y Systems Technologies GmbH and Yazaki Corp.
Detroit area lawyer Tom Wienner of Wienner & Gould PC represents three of the vehicle owners, on behalf of millions of others, in the cases in Detroit, court documents said. A California law firm represents the other plaintiff.
Wienner did not immediately return calls to his office.
The class action suits seek seeking damages exceeding $5 million, court documents said.
Misty Matthews, manager of communication for Yazaki North America, said the supplier is aware of the suits and its legal team is reviewing the case.
Lear issued a statement Monday that said, “The company believes that the claims against it alleging anti-competitive behavior are completely without merit and will vigorously defend itself in any litigation related to such claims.”
Lindsey Williams, director of corporate relations for Delphi, said the company is aware of the suits, but has not been issued a subpoena.
The suits stem from an investigation of the global wire harness business that began in 2010. Involved in the investigations are the U.S. Department of Justice and officials from the European Union and Japan.
This month, the Justice Department slapped Furukawa with a $200 million fine, and three of its executives are scheduled to plead guilty for their role in an alleged global price-fixing scheme.
Furukawa's North American subsidiary, American Furukawa, took the first blow as a result of the 20-month investigation, but the FBI raided several suppliers in its antitrust investigation.
In February 2010, Japan's Fair Trade Commission raided the Tokyo offices of Furukawa, Sumitomo Electric Industries and Yazaki as part of an expansive investigation into alleged collusion dating back to at least 2003.
Around the same time, FBI agents raided the North American headquarters of Japanese subsidiaries Yazaki, Denso International America Inc. and Tokai Rika Group North America. The European Commission conducted similar unannounced inspections of TRW Automotive Inc.'s and Lear's offices in Europe.