National consumer-rights law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP announced today that a federal judge handed down two rulings that add to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) legal woes in its attempt to defend itself of charges the company conspired to illegally inflate the price of e-books. The rulings, issued by senior U.S. federal Judge Denise Cote, granted the class certification for consumers who sued Apple for conspiring with five publishers to fix e-book prices, and in a separate ruling, tossed out the bulk of arguments made by Apple’s two economists, who were attempting to reduce the amount of money Apple owes to injured consumers. In an earlier court ruling, a federal judge declared that Apple – the sole remaining defendant – was liable in the price-fixing case. A trial likely set for this summer will determine the damages Apple will pay consumers. “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.” In a recently settled case against five book-publishing companies that conspired to raise and fix e-book prices and violated national antitrust laws, all other defendants settled out except Apple. Penguin Group (USA) Inc.; Hachette Book Group Inc.; HarperCollins Publishers LLC; Simon & Schuster Inc.; and Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, d/b/a Macmillan, all reached a settlement on behalf of consumers, leaving Apple the only remaining defendant, as the company has denied allegations of liability and objected to the certification of the class. In the 86-page document granting class certification, Judge Cote stated, “This is a paradigmatic antitrust class action. If certification were not appropriate here, no antitrust class action could be certified.”
In a separate order filed March 28, 2014, Judge Cote also noted that Apple alone went to trial, and in a bench trial held in June 2013, Apple was found liable. The states and class are now pursuing damages from Apple in a damages trial which is scheduled to occur shortly, according to the judge’s order.Four related lawsuits have been filed against Apple and five publishers allegedly involved in e-books price fixing, including one action brought by private plaintiffs as a class action, in which Hagens Berman recently announced the settlement of approximately $62 million for consumers. The settlement was part of a $166 million nationwide settlement. About Hagens Berman Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights law firm with offices in nine cities. The firm represents investors, whistleblowers, workers and consumers in complex litigation. More about Hagens Berman and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com.