SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today Hagens Berman attorneys representing a class of e-book purchasers announced they have reached a settlement with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) for its role in an alleged price-fixing scheme which has the potential of returning $400 million to consumers. Hagens Berman litigated the case jointly with the attorneys general from 33 U.S. states and territories.
The class of consumers alleged that Apple illegally colluded with a group of five publishing companies to manipulate the e-book market by artificially raising the price of e-books, lowering competition and charging consumers higher prices.
Prior to this proposed settlement, Hagens Berman and the state attorneys general secured $166 million in settlements on behalf of consumers from the five publishing companies that allegedly conspired with Apple, bringing the total potential recovery to consumers to $560 million, twice the amount of damages suffered by the class.
Under the terms of today’s settlement, Apple will pay consumers $400 million if Apple’s appeal of a 2013 bench ruling which found Apple guilty of federal antitrust laws is dismissed. In July 2013, after a trial involving the Department of Justice and numerous state attorneys general, Judge Cote of the District Court for the Southern District of New York found Apple guilty of violating both federal and state antitrust laws. Apple has appealed this ruling to the 2nd Circuit.
“We have obviously studied Judge Cote’s July 2013 ruling in detail, and believe that the 2nd Circuit will agree with her conclusion that Apple did violate federal antitrust laws,” said Steve W. Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and lead attorney representing the consumer class. “In any case of this magnitude, there are high degrees of uncertainty, and Apple’s appeal of Judge Cote’s well-reasoned ruling is an example of that uncertainty.”
If the Court of Appeals reverses and remands the case back to District Court, the settlement agreement calls for Apple to pay consumers $50 million to settle their damages claims, while the Department of Justice and states’ attorneys general would remain free to continue litigating their claims for injunctive relief. If the court of appeals reverses the lower court decision, Apple would pay no damages.
Hagens Berman represents purchasers of e-books in 19 states and four U.S. territories, with the balance of the states represented by their respective attorneys general.
“When we pioneered the theory that Apple and its publishing co-conspirators worked together to wring money from consumers through this complex scheme, we knew we would be in for a difficult fight,” Berman said. “Apple and the publishing companies went to extraordinary lengths to fight the claims of consumers and the states, but in the end, we believe this settlement is confirmation that the antitrust laws apply equally to all citizens.”
More information about the firm’s case against Apple is available at http://www.hbsslaw.com/cases-and-investigations/cases/ebooks.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights, class-action law firm with offices in nine cities. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List seven times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. The firm’s class-action law blog is located at www.classactionlawtoday.com.