National consumer-rights law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP today announced that California purchasers of e-books will soon begin receiving account credits or checks totaling as much as $17.9 million as a partial settlement in price-fixing litigation brought by Hagens Berman against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and five e-book publishers.
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.; Hachette Book Group Inc.; HarperCollins Publishers LLC; Simon & Schuster Inc.; and Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, d/b/a Macmillan all joined in the settlement, which provides class members with more than half of their damages, totaling $166 million for all consumers. Hagens Berman is still pursuing the remainder of class members’ damages against Apple.
Apple refused to settle with consumers in California and other states involved in the litigation, and was subsequently found by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote to be complicit in a scheme to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices in a price-fixing scheme. A second trial to determine the amount of damages Apple must pay will be scheduled to occur this summer.
“We are extraordinarily proud of the settlement, both for the very high percentage of damages we’ve been able to return to California residents, and for the speed at which we’ve been able to deliver the result,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and lead attorney for the e-books litigation. “Typically cases like this are protracted for years, and our success in returning a large amount of the damages to consumers this quickly is remarkable.”Hagens Berman was the first to file litigation against Apple and the publishing houses for the alleged price-fixing scheme in late 2011. E-book purchasers who bought e-books between Apr. 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012, will see either an account credit or a check in upcoming weeks, depending on a number of variables including from which e-retailer the consumer purchased e-books. For more information, visit www.ebookagsettlements.com. According to the suit, publishers believed that Amazon’s wildly popular Kindle e-reader device and the company’s discounted pricing for e-books would increase the adoption of e-books, and feared Amazon’s discounted pricing structure would permanently set consumer expectations for lower prices, even for other e-reader devices.