Compiled by Steve Linke
Note that the content on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the full legal disclaimer.
This case involves only two models, the 2005 model year SXRD-based KDS-R50XBR1 and KDS-R60XBR1. About 175,000 of these TVs were sold between approximately 9/2005 and 7/2006. The Complaints allege that the optical blocks in these models had defects that caused green blobs, yellow stains, and other discolorations to appear.
The original Complaint was filed in US District Court, Southern District of New York on 7/7/2006 and was heard by Judge Robert Patterson. Two other similar cases were consolidated with it, and an Amended Complaint was filed on 2/20/2007. The Complaint included several causes of action in three broad categories: (1) breach of express and/or implied warranties, (2) violation of consumer protection laws in California (predominantly) and other states, and (3) unjust enrichment through sale of extended warranties after the defects became known.
Some of the Plaintiffs notable claims in the Complaint:
Sony and Plaintiffs counsel initiated mediation in 11/2006. On 3/21/2007, Sony requested dismissal of the case based on an alleged inapplicability of California consumer protection laws to the nationwide case. Despite this, the parties reached a proposed settlement in 5/2007, which was filed on 10/17/2007.
On 10/23/2007, the Court granted preliminary approval of the proposed settlement and ordered that customers be notified. About 68,000 of the approximately 175,000 customers were notified by email or regular mail, a notice was published for two days in USA Today, and a settlement web site was established and links provided on the Sony web site. Noting only 45 objections to the settlement from customers, the judge approved the settlement on 5/1/2008 with an Opinion and Order.
As part of the settlement, Sony agreed to extend the warranty on the optical blocks to 6/30/2009 (including telephone-based diagnosis) and to reimburse customers who had already paid for the repair. They also agreed to reimburse customers who had accepted offers from Sony to pay for upgrades to newer SXRD models (XBR2, A2000, or A2020)--these were typically customers who had experienced two optical block failures.
In addition, Sony agreed to pay $1.6 million in attorneys' fees for about 2,400 hours of work plus about $50,000 in expenses (~$650/hr). This amount was agreed upon independent of the settlement terms for the customers, though. The Plaintiffs attorneys included Robert I. Lax & Associates (New York City, NY), The Herskowitz Law Firm (Miami, FL), and Lange & Koncius LLP (El Segundo, CA).
Additional points of interest
During mediation, Sony supposedly provided Plaintiffs counsel with key engineering documents from Sony (regarding design), Texas Instruments (regarding testing), and after-market service providers (regarding problem reports), and allowed interviews with Sony project engineers. In addition, Plaintiffs counsel supposedly had access to optical block failure analysis through consultations with engineering experts. By agreement, all of this documentation has presumably now all been destroyed.
Sony claimed that a majority of the green issues (donut-shaped green blobs in the middle of the screen) showed up almost immediately after the TVs were put into service, and that by 10/2005 (only one month after starting to sell the TVs), they had identified and fixed that issue ("temperature fluctuations at the calibration stage of the assembly line"). Sony claimed that this only affected the first ~7,000 TVs to be manufactured. Sony also claimed that other minor causes of green issues (perhaps "green haze") were identified and fixed by 1/2006. However, no details are available on the cause or solution claimed by Sony.
Sony claimed that the yellow stains were caused by a "microscopic material" in the liquid crystal panels, disrupting their uniformity over time during prolonged exposure to UV light produced by the projection lamp. This issue typically started at the edge of the screen and enlarged over time. Sony claimed that the extent of the discoloration depended on the amount of microscopic material present in the panel, which varied from TV to TV, and the frequency of usage by the consumer. They also claimed that service records indicated that the issue always appeared within the first 3,000 hours of usage, if it was going to happen. They went on to claim that, between 1/2006 and 10/2006, they worked to reduce both the amount of the microscopic material and the amount of UV light exposure.
Sony convinced the Plaintiffs counsel and the judge that, by 10/2006, they were producing non-defective optical blocks for the 2005 SXRD TVs, as evidenced by the fact that no green or yellow issues had been reported for optical blocks produced after that date. In addition, Sony convinced the Plaintiffs counsel and judge that virtually all of the defective TVs that were subject to the problems would have exhibited them by the new optical block warranty expiration date (6/30/2009), given the claimed 0-3,000 hour time period to appearance.
It is possible that Sony fixed some of the green issues (e.g., the green discolorations that occurred immediately). It is also possible that Sony extended the time to the appearance of the other green and yellow issues, but only about seven months had transpired from the alleged optical block redesigns, which was likely insufficient to make a definitive assessment of the success.
Inconsistent with Sony's claims during mediation, which led to the settlement, many 2005 SXRD owners are now reporting green and yellow issues with their TVs that became evident only after the 6/30/2009 warranty extension expiration. In addition, similar issues are occurring with both the 2006 and 2007 model year SXRDs, which were largely produced after the alleged 10/2006 optical block redesign.
Key legal documents
First Amended Consolidated Class Action Complaint (2/20/2007)
Sony formerly maintained a web page on the settlement of the class action lawsuit on their 2005 SXRD TVs located at the following URL: http://esupport.sony.com/sxrdsettlement
However, the warranty extension mandated in that settlement expired on June 30, 2009. Sony removed their web page in approximately October of 2009. I have archived the original web page here.
The four documents linked on Sony's former web page are archived as follows:
Class Action Settlement Agreement (10/17/2007)
Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement
Opinion and Order Approving Settlement (5/1/2008)
Final Approval Order and Judgment (5/1/2008)
"Cardenas" SXRD2 (Q006, XBR2, A2000, A2020, and A3000) class action: 09-CV-8652-RPP & 09-MD-2102-RPP (settled 8/24/2010)A class action lawsuit was originally filed in October of 2008 by the same law firms involved in the XBR1 lawsuit on behalf of Paul Meserole and others, which included only the A2000 and XBR2 models. The Complaints included allegations very similar to the XBR1 Complaint--that the optical blocks had defects that caused discolorations to appear over time. Over the ensuing months, six additional similar class action lawsuits were consolidated under what became known as the "Meserole" action, and Sony engaged in some negotiations for a settlement.
However, in June of 2009, another lawsuit was filed by the Federman & Sherwood law firm on behalf of a single plaintiff, Sabrina Cardenas. The Complaint was largely copied from the Meserole action, but it added the 60" version of the A2020 (Ms. Cardenas owned a 60" A2020). Sony switched to negotiating with this new law firm, added all of the remaining SXRD models to the list (the 2004 Q006s, the remaining 50" and 55" versions of the A2020, and the A3000s), and they jointly announced a proposed settlement in November of 2009.
The proposed settlement received preliminary approval on 5/19/2010 from the same federal judge who oversaw the XBR1 settlement. A Fairness Hearing occurred on 8/13/2010, and the judge gave the settlement final approval on 8/24/2010. The Federman law firm received ~$625,000 in attorney's fees with Mr. Federman alone charging ~$250,000 for ~294 hours of time at an hourly rate of $850. The previously filed "Meserole actions" were dismissed in early 9/2010.
It was noted in the Settlement, though, that California residents with XBR2 or A2000 models should be aware of another potential class action (Weaver v. Sony) that was pending in California state court, which could reach a different conclusions based on different consumer protection laws in California, but that the customers needed to "opt out" of the Cardenas settlement to be covered.
This case involves all of the remaining SXRD-based models, other than
the XBR1s that were the subject of the above class action lawsuit. This
allegedly includes 352,022 TVs: the 2004 Q006s, the 2006 XBR2s and
A2000s, and the 2007 A2020s and A3000s. The following table was derived from data provided by Sony in the XBR1 and SXRD2 class actions:
*The XBR1 data is included here for reference, but it was included in a previous class action.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the terms of the settlement provide
little or no meaningful relief for the affected TV owners (class members). Here is a summary of the Opinion and Order granting final approval:
The main "benefit" of the proposed settlement is an extension of the warranty for optical block problems. However, before the proposed settlement, the warranties had already been extended, and the settlement only extended them by 1-2 months, in most cases. The related problem is that many customers are experiencing failures of their replacement optical blocks, indicating that a repair is only a temporary fix. Furthermore, warranty extensions for other models that were never the subject of a class action lawsuit have generally been longer than those in class actions, including the Cardenas action.
Proposed warranty extension for optical block replacement
Warranty extensions are generally longer for
models without class action lawsuits, including proposed Cardenas
The other main "benefit" of the settlement is that Sony can opt to provide small cash settlements in the low hundreds of dollars (representing only about 10% of the original retail prices), rather than ensuring consumers have non-defective TVs (a more detailed assessment of the terms is below).
Proposed cash settlement
Reimbursement of repair expenses (~212 customers eligible)
Reimbursement for Sony extended service plans (52 customers eligible)
Reimbursement for "upgrades" to other SXRD models (16 customers eligible)
Customers started receiving Class Notices of the proposed settlement in early June, 2010. Even if you did not receive a Notice, you will most likely be subject
to the terms of the settlement, if it receives final approval. You can access the information and forms on the Sony SXRD 2 Rear Projection Television Class Action Settlement and
Information web page, which Sony was required to set up on their support site. It includes the following documents:
Customers were given the option to "object" or "opt out" of the
settlement before a July 23, 2010 deadline. If you "objected", you
remain subject to the settlement and release Sony from liability. If you
"opted out," you are capable of filing your own legal action in the
future, if you so choose, but the settlement terms do not apply to you.
If you did nothing, you effectively agreed to the settlement terms and
likely have no further legal recourse against Sony.
Sample objections to class action settlement
The deadline to object (July 23, 2010) has passed, but here are some sample arguments against the settlement:
Sony's Memorandum in Support of Cardenas Settlement (3/9/2010)
My second letter in response to Cardenas and Sony replies (4/7/2010)
This case represented a federal consolidation of several other class actions (Ouellete et al., Webber et al., Raymo et al., and Crusinberry et al.) related to newer (2006-2007) SXRD models. The plaintiffs alleged that Sony was in violation of a variety of warranty laws, false advertising laws, business codes, other consumer protection laws for knowingly selling TVs that had defective optical blocks, suppressing release of information on the defects, and engaging in ineffective and untimely repairs while selling extended service contracts. This case was superseded by the Cardenas lawsuit and dismissed in early September 2010, shortly after final approval of the Cardenas settlement.
Sony claimed that they had agreed on settlement terms in the Meserole actions that were even less beneficial than they did with Cardenas, and that the Meserole attorneys were demanding much higher fees than the Cardenas attorneys ($1.6 million vs. $625,000). The settlement terms were likely very similar, but, in either case, the proposed settlements appeared to provide little or no meaningful relief to consumers given Sony's seeming unwillingness or inability to completely resolve the defects.
Sanction of Meserole attorneys
To support their case, the Meserole attorneys included in some of their filed Complaints statements obtained from two former Sony employees. The alleged statements concerned Sony having major problems with their XBR2 and A2000 optical blocks, and that they had knowingly sold these defective TVs to consumers. However, under questioning by Sony attorneys during depositions, the employees clarified these statements, and the Meserole attorneys were sanctioned by the judge for taking them out of context, although the sanction was later reversed.
One of the former employees (Confidential Source #2), who had worked for Sony from March 1996 through June 2007, confirmed that he worked on the XBR2 and A2000 models, and that there were substantial problems with the optical blocks, which were then refurbished. However, inconsistent with the claims of the Meserole attorneys, he clarified that the problems were due to dirt contamination during shipping, that the problems were fixed by altering the shipping packaging, and that he was not directly aware of Sony knowingly selling defective TVs or putting the refurbished (cleaned) optical blocks in new TVs.
The other former employee (Confidential Source #1) was involved in replacing failed optical blocks at Sony from Spring 2004 through Fall 2005. He originally stated to the Meserole attorneys, "In 2005, if Sony sent out one million television sets, they got one million back. Every single television
that left the [Sony] plant was bad, and they knew it."
In the later deposition with Sony, he confirmed that he thought every
TV that came out of the Sony plant in the 2005 time frame was defective. In addition, he stated that he had heard “that there was so many
customer complaints regarding optical blocks that retail stores began to
send back unsold Sony TVs to have the optical blocks replaced” in late 2005 through 2007.
However, Confidential Source #1 backed off the portion of his statement that Sony knew about the defects when they sold the TVs. In addition, consistent with the time period he was replacing optical blocks, he clarified that he did not work on the XBR1, XBR2, A2000, A10, or A20 models, which indicates that he was replacing optical blocks in earlier 3LCD models (XBR950, WE, WF, and XS). The Meserole attorneys had eliminated his reference to the year "2005" in his statement, which pre-dated the XBR2 and A2000 models in the current lawsuit. So, the Meserole attorneys were sanctioned for taking his statement out of context, as he had no direct knowledge of the XBR2 and A2000 models--only the earlier models.
In any event, despite what some Sony advocates would like people to believe,
the sworn testimony still applies to the 2005 time period when the
employee was actually working on the optical blocks. Federal judge Robert Patterson wrote the following on page 22 of his Order: "At
his deposition, Confidential Source #1 was able to state firmly and on
the basis of actual knowledge that in 2005, he believed that every
television that left the plant had a problem with the optical block."
Key legal documents
Opinion and Order on First Amended Class Action Complaint (5/19/2009)
Second Amended Class Action Complaint (6/17/2009)
Opinion and Order on Second Amended Class Action Complaint (7/9/2009)
Opinion and Order sanctioning Meserole attorneys (7/22/2010)
"Weaver" SXRD2 (XBR2 and A2000) class action: San Diego Superior
Court: 37-2009-00086048-CU-BT-CTL (dismissed without prejudice 3/29/2012)
case was originally filed on 3/25/2009 in California Superior Court (San Diego) by Tracy Weaver and Devon Adrian. It only affects California customers with XBR2 or A2000 models. A First Amended Complaint was filed on 5/29/2009. On June 30, 2009, Sony filed a demurrer (objection) challenging the legal sufficiency of the Complaint, but he Court rejected Sony's request to have the case thrown out. Sony filed an Answer to the Complaint on 11/2/2009, and the parties reportedly initiated discovery.
The case was then put on hold during the federal class actions described above (Cardenas and Meserole). In the Cardenas settlement, which was finalized on 8/24/2010, it was noted that California residents with XBR2 or A2000 models should be aware of this potential class action, which could reach a different conclusions based on different consumer protection laws in California, but that they needed to "opt out" of the Cardenas settlement to be covered.
The case was eventually dismissed without prejudice on 3/29/2012.
The only document I have from this case is the plaintiffs' Opposition to Sony's 6/30/2009 Demurrer.
class action lawsuit was filed in US District Court, Southern District of California for the lamp overheating issue that affects the 2003-2004 3LCD models WE and XBR950. This case was dismissed on 12/5/2012.
Discussion of issues (pending)
Key legal documents
Original Complaint (4/15/2010)
Second Amended Complaint (8/5/2011)
Sony's Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (8/22/2011) Doc. 35 (pending)
Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (10/6/2011)
Sony's Response to Opposition (8/12/2010)
Order Granting Sony's Motion to Dismiss (12/5/2011)
Consolidated Complaint was filed on 8/14/2009. The original judge (Whelan) dismissed seven of the eight claims on 8/6/2010, but allowed the case to continue on a breach of warranty claim, allowing the plaintiffs to amend their complaint.
On 8/30/2010, the plaintiffs filed a First Amended Consolidated Complaint. This was followed by a Motion to Dismiss by Sony along with supporting and opposing documents from both parties. On 11/30/2010, the judge dismissed the entire case with no right to file again.
Discussion of issues (pending)
Key legal documents
Consolidated Complaint (8/14/2009)
Partial Dismissal of Consolidated Complaint (8/6/2010)
First Amended Consolidated Complaint (8/30/2010)
Sony Motion to Dismiss (9/20/2010)
Plaintiffs' Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (10/15/2010)
Sony's Reply to Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (10/25/2010)
Order Granting Sony's Motion to Dismiss (11/30/2010)
© Copyright 2009-2011 by Steven P. Linke. All rights reserved.
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