Judge Grants Class Certification for Consumer E-Book Lawsuit Against Apple
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) continues to endure legal repercussions from its e-book price-fixing conspiracy. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote granted class certification to consumers suing the iPhone maker over the e-book price-fixing conspiracy that it orchestrated with five publishers, according to a press release from national consumer-rights law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. Judge Cote also rejected the majority of arguments made by Apple’s two economists who were attempting to lower the amount of any potential damages award.
“We are thrilled about what the certification means for consumers — with automatic trebling they could see a judgment of between $750 to $850 million,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and lead attorney for the e-books litigation and class action against Apple. “Apple has remained stalwart, and the company’s goal has been shown clear — to eliminate pro-consumer pricing in favor of higher corporate profit.”
Last summer, Judge Cote ruled that Apple violated antitrust laws when it orchestrated a price-fixing conspiracy with CBS’ (NYSE:CBS) Simon & Schuster; Hachette Book Group, Inc.; News Corp.’s (NASDAQ:NWS) (NASDAQ:NWSA) HarperCollins; Pearson Plc’s (NYSE:PSO) Penguin Group; and Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC (doing business as Macmillan.) All five of the publishers have already reached a settlement on behalf of consumers, leaving Apple as the only defendant. Now multiple states and consumers are seeking damages from Apple that will be determined in an upcoming damages trial.
In her ruling that granted the lawsuit class certification, Judge Cote wrote, “This is a paradigmatic antitrust class action. If certification were not appropriate here, no antitrust class action could be certified.”