Consumers and businesses in Iowa and 23 other states may be entitled to cash refunds from a billion-dollar settlement fund involving

10 manufacturers of LCD flat panels over an illegal price-fixing conspiracy to raise the price of LCD screens used in televisions, monitors, and laptop computers.

According to officials from Desautel Hege Communications, Spokane, Wash., the federal court-appointed marketing firm designated to inform consumers of the case, from 1999 to 2006, the 10 companies collaborated to keep the price of these products at a certain level. The $1.1 billion amount is the largest anti-trust, all-cash recovery for consumers in U.S. history, they said.

Officials said it does include consumers who purchased items in the Quad-Cities.

The settling defendants that manufactured the flat panels are AU Optronics Corp., Chi Mei Optoelectronics, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Epson Imaging Devices, HannStar Display, Hitachi Ltd., LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sharp and Toshiba.

Officials said, for example, a consumer may have purchased a flat-screen TV at a big box store or a company may have purchased 1,000 computers for employees and if it involved one of those company products, both would be eligible to make a claim.

Eligible consumers could collect $25, $100, $200 or more depending upon the number of televisions, monitors, and laptop computers purchased. Businesses with large purchases could recoup many thousands of dollars. The claims process consists of a few questions about the number of LCD flat screen TVs, monitors, and laptops that were purchased from 1999 to 2006.

Consumers and businesses are eligible for payments if they were residents of one of 24 settling states or the District of Columbia at the time of purchase. The 24 states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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