States rights to damages bode ill for Apple
April 16, 2014 | 6:25 pm
Legal developments around the Apple ebook price fixing debacle are not exactly going Cupertino’s way. Most recently, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, to no one’s great surprise, returned a negative response to Apple’s motion to dismiss the damage claims brought by 33 states of the Union in their previous parallel case alongside the U.S. Justice Department. According to Reuters, the damage claims from U.S. states could amount to some $840 million.
“Apple now moves to dismiss the antitrust action filed by the States. Apple contends that the States lack standing to assert their claims against Apple or, at the very least, that the States should be required seek class certification under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure before seeking to recover damages from Apple due to its antitrust violations,” states the relevant Opinion and Order. “The issue of standing is customarily raised at the initial stages of a case. In this litigation, however, no party questioned the standing of the States to seek damages.”
Apple’s case for dismissal of the damages claims appears to have hinged on a rather artificial distinction between the plaintiffs’ standing to call for an end to an antitrust violation, and their standing to demand material damages for that violation. This relates to the necessity to obtain class certification for certain collective damages actions – in this case, on behalf of the states’ citizens. Judge Cote was certainly having none of it. “None of those challenges gave cause for any concern that Apple’s due process rights are at stake from an effort to obtain damages for its violation of the federal antitrust laws.”
The full Opinion and Order document is available on Scribd here.